Search Results for Tag: Warming
“When the snow lay round about” – because of global warming?
Snow on trees – beautiful, if you ask me, and appropriate weather for this time of year. Of course not everybody sees it that way. Most of the people supposedly always “Dreamin’ of a white Christmas…” have been whinging non-stop since the snow started, admittedly a good bit ahead of the feast itself.
And then, yes, off we went. They’re at it again. Newspapers, people on the (much delayed) train, friends on the telephone… the same old story… “so much for climate change. Do you know how much snow is on my doorstep…?”
Well I was in a way relieved to know that George Monbiot has been encountering the same problem – and has a suitable explanation to hand. Let me direct you to “That snow outside is what global warming looks like” in a recent edition of the Guardian.
“The cold has reason in a deathly grip” – does that sound a bit drastic?
DateDecember 28, 2010 | 3:44 pm
Climate change in pictures while you wait…
Alaska and south America are the regions where the glaciers are currently melting fastest, according to a report released in Cancun. I experienced that first-hand in Alaska in 2008, when I started the ice blog.
This is one of the pictures taken from the Begich Boggs glacier visitors centre. There’s a visiting centre purpose built to see the Portage glacier – but where the glacier has retreated so far it’s no longer visible from this point at all.In 2008, we were told it had receded more than 2 miles in 70 years.
On the last official day of Cancun, the wrangling is still going on – same procedure as every year? A freelance colleague dropped in just now . “There doesn’t seem to be anything happening in Cancun”.. he said. Yeah, that seems to be the feeling. My colleague Nathan Witkop from the Living Planet programme is there. You might like to read
his latest summary while you’re waiting.
I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Global Ideas blog You might enjoy a look at that.
And if you are interested in watching some more pictures and video and reading/hearing from some researchers in the field, have a look at these pictures from Lars Hansen who took some great shots at the Zackenberg Monitoring Station in Greenland.
That will all help pass the time waiting for the Cancun closer…
DateDecember 10, 2010 | 2:31 pm
Germs under the permafrost: too scary?
-Monitoring the permafrost and emissions from it at Zackenberg Station, Greenland, I took the photo in 2009-
„I hope I wasn’t too scary“, said Professor Andrej Grjbovski to me after our panel discussion in Bonn the other night. He works with the Norwegian School of Public Health in Oslo and the Northern State Medical University in his native Arkhangelsk in Russia.
Well I’m not for panic-mongering, but given some of the information our experts were coming out with, maybe you can’t be too scary.
Prof. G. was in Bonn both for the conference at the environment ministry and the public panel discussion. (See links on the Ice Blog 30.11.2010). Amongst other things, he’s involved in a WHO project to monitor the effects of climate change on health in a region of northern Russia.
He was referring in particular to the health dangers from melting permafrost. There are all sorts of dangerous things buried in the permafrost, which come to the surface as it melts. Not for nothing do some people refer to a “timebomb” in the Arctic. After outbreaks of diseases like anthrax, for instance, animals were buried in mass graves. The anthrax spores can survive in there and pose a new threat to health as they emerge again. Yes, Professor, that is definitely in the “scary” category.
But a changing climate poses all sorts of less “spectacular” but nonetheless crucial challenges to health care around the globe. The WHO says the 2003 heatwave killed 70,000 people in Europe. Heatstroke and heart attacks can be fatal to the particularly vulnerable, especially older people. Children and the homeless were also mentioned as amongst the vulnerable population groups.
Floods are another example. Apart from deaths from drowning, there’s the water pollution and fungus left over in the aftermath, which can result in the spread of infectious diseases, respiratory and digestive problems etc.
And of course species are moving to different areas – including, for instance, the mosquito types that are bringing illnesses like Dengue to Europe.
Needless to say – but I’m doing it anyway, sometimes we have to keep reminding ourselves of the obvious – it’s the people in poorer countries or areas who suffer most from the higher health risks through climate change. Germany has an adaptation strategy involving early warning systems for extreme weather events or the spread of infections and flood protection systems. The deputy director of the German meteorology office the DWD Paul Becker told me in an interview capacity building and passing on the necessary expertise to adapt to the health risks posed by a changing climate were the key issues in helping the developing world, whereby finding the necessary funding was probably the main challenge.
Incidentally, on the sidelines of the Cancun talks, Germanwatch published its latest Climate Risk Index. It says more than 650,000 people died in around 14,000 extreme weather events over the last two decades.
DateDecember 7, 2010 | 11:48 am
Satellite Arctic and Antarctic images alarm scientists
(Greenland coastal glacier I photographed this summer)
More worrying news on the ice front. A study based on the analysis of millions of NASA satellite laser images has indicated that coastal ice in Greenland and Antarctica is thinning more extensively than expected. The biggest loss of ice is caused by glaciers speeding up when they flow into the sea, according to scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Bristol University. There is a clear pattern of glaciers thinning across large areas of coastline, sometimes extending hundreds of kilometres inland. The scientists think the cause is probably warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier fronts.
Worryingly, the scientific community still does not have enough information to understand this fully and predict what impact it will have on sea level rise.
According to the study, 81 of 111 fast-moving glaciers in Greenland are thinning at twice the rate of slow-flowing ice at the same altitude. This is called “dynamic thinning”, which means loss of ice caused by a faster flow. Apparently, it is much more significant than people thought before. This fits with what scientists I talked to in Greenland a few weeks ago were saying.
Melting from below
DateSeptember 24, 2009 | 3:58 pm
On the Greenland Ice Sheet
I have been walking on the world’s 2nd largest ice sheet. It would take 30 days to cross it on foot and skis, and it’s almost 3 kilometres thick at its thickest point. It’s hard to imagine that much ice. And to imagine what it would mean for the world’s oceans if it melted. A disastrous 7m rise is the most common estimate, and views on whether or when that might happen vary widely. It’s a complex process, with a lot of uncertainty. But the Greenland ice cap is undoubtedly losing mass overall. And the IPCC predictions have been well overtaken by the current rate of global change.
I drove to the inland ice from Kangerlussaq in a four-wheel drive vehicle. The road was actually financed by the German car company Volkswagen. They decided around 1999 to build a test area for their vehicles on the ice, and this was the access road. (Seems surprising to get permission to build a car test track across the ice sheet in the national park, but there you are).VW stopped in 2005, so did maintenance it seems. Still, with that and the old US base, people have been telling me this area has the most roads in Greenland.
It’s a gravel and sandy track, but 2 hours take you out to the ice and there are spectacular views on the way.(Also muskox and reindeer, but that’s not our subject today).
This is a view on the approach.
It’s strange – the sudden contrast, how Greenland changes from being literally green to icy blue-white:
A wall of ice.
At the end of the track, we walked up the morane, gravel discarded by the ice, and down the other side to get onto the ice sheet. It’s now 40 metres lower than it was when the road was built.
Once on the ice sheet, it’s ice as far as the eye can see.
It’s no wonder this is becoming a tourist attraction, although the remoteness of northern Greenland and the trouble and expense of getting here make sure it’s not a destination for mass tourism. But all the guides and tourist people I’ve spoken to confirm that the talk about climate change is attracting more people.
Some say it’s just that people are becoming more aware of the beauties of the Arctic. One guide was convinced a lot of visitors want to see the ice before it dwindles or disappears. It would certainly take a lot to melt this one. But the process appears to be in motion.
DateJuly 28, 2009 | 10:41 am