Search Results for Tag: Arctic
Arctic defrosting faster than ever
With the world expecting to celebrate world records at the London Olympics from today, the weather in recent weeks has delivered many high scores we should be less happy with: Record breaking high temperatures in the USA, droughts in Canada or deadly floods in Russia are just the most prominent examples.
Now there’s more. This summer, ice in arctic regions has been melting more extensively than ever seen before.
NASA scientists reported that in mid-July a whopping 97 percent of Greenland’s ice surface was melting. While the amount of surface melting can change extensively and in a matter of days (depending on the temperature of the air above), it’s never been observed to cover that large an area in more than 30 years of satellite observations.
Is this just a freak event or global warming in action? Scientists are careful not to draw a direct link between extreme weather events and climate change. For good reason: Some phenomena may not have been observed before, but scientists are not surprised to see them regardless of a global warming. Cores drilled out the Greenland ice sheets can help recover the temperature history for the place and indicate that extreme melting regularly occured every 150 years or so. This summer’s thawing episode is “right on time”, says one NASA glaciologist.
But the accumulation of extreme weather events is something you would plausibly expect under conditions of global warming, says Global Ideas climate expert Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. Even then, “we can’t say what the further impacts will be,” he cautions. In the case of Greenland “we don’t know what a period of extreme melting actually means except that in this moment more water is being lost and the water level is rising.”
Taking a long hard look at individual regions, however, can help establish more direct links between regional trends and global warming. At least 70 percent of the reduction of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 years may be man made suggests a study by a British-Japanese team of scientists. Here’s how the lead author puts it:
DateJuly 27, 2012
The Beauty of Ice
These pictures have been made during a 7-day Training programme in arctic ice. During the excursion participants learned about polar climate-related issues and, at the same time, they saw the amazing beauty of the polar Arctic region.
The aim of this project was to raise awareness of the dramatic climate change impacts in the Arctic on an environmental, geo-political and socio-cultural level. Twenty young people from across Europe and Canada who are active in climate change projects participated on the training event.
The project was organized by the British Council and facilitated by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).
DateJuly 18, 2011
TagsArctic, biodiversity, british council, climate, climate change, conservation, international, pictures
After an Amazing Arctic Experience, a résumé
The inherent value of the Arctic – its genuine and honest nature – provided us with ideas and inspiration to last for a lifetime. The incredible modesty of the Arctic is astonishing. Neither icebergs, polar bears, puffins, rocks, nor any other part of this amazing ecosystem demand something from us. But we demand something from it. We want the fresh air that it gives us, we want to experience its beauty, we want it to stay in its current form. But at the same time most of our every day actions and behaviour demonstrate otherwise. Often they are harmful to the Arctic – harmful to the ecosystems on Earth, upon which life depends. Understanding the linkages, in which we as human beings are embedded, as various networks of ecosystems is an essential first step for changing our impact and to create change towards more sustainable societies and economies. In essence, it means to reconnect to what really matters to us as human beings.
During the last week we – 17 young people from 12 different countries – supported by amazing trainers have begun to feel like a community, a strong community bond together by an inspiring and exceptional experience and the common wish to create a sustainable future. We will support each other and work together to reconnect to the environment we work in – on local, national and global scales.
Our actions, diverse in nature, are just waiting to be put into practice in our home countries and beyond. There will be challenges we will all face, but the inspiration of this Arctic experience outweighs them by far.
DateJuly 5, 2011
A sense of time and change from an Arctic perspective
Today was a humbling day. The landscape of Svalbard belittles you, and makes you feel like a child discovering the world. It’s like seeing the engine that drives the planet naked, stripped down to its bear parts (pun intended). Our instructors (of the UN Environmental Programme) and the boat’s guides are our instruction manual, enabling us to read this landscape and relate it to the world’s climate and politics as well as our personal narratives.
What is amazing to me is that you can clearly see how natural forces have shaped every aspect of this landscape. The valley sides, exposed by the receding ice at the end of the last ice age are steeper than is stable and so are in a continual state of erosion. Pebbles and sand on the shoreline morph into a thin strip of tundra running parallel to the coast; this strip merges sharply into a 45 degree scree slope that rises some 200m before meeting a thick 100m band of vertical rock which was its parent. The dull rock where exposed is peppered with fiery red lichen giving its natural brown colour and orange twinge in the sunlight.
Even the young geological processes that have formed this valley’s recent features span the whole of human civilisation. Processes alien to our daily lives but innate to the earth/climate system that ultimately governs our planet. At the same time, some things here in the Arctic change rapidly. The weather can change in an hour from clear blue skies and sheet like oceans to wind, rain and an ocean speckled with white caps.
On current trajectories we could well see an ice free arctic in the summer within a generation. Such a process may well be irreversible on human timescales. I – we here on this trip may literally be one of the last generations to do this and see this unique habitat, this unique place at the top of our world. We are talking about a permanent voyage into the unknown, into a world alien to that which we have grown up in: a world less diverse in its cultures, less diverse in its environment.
We cannot make up for it later, with apologies, remorse or token efforts at recompense. But the fact remains that we still have a choice, we are not asleep at the wheel, just drunk driving. It’s time to sober up and realise that we have to take control of our future. We have to take responsibility, and we have to pay more attention to things that operate beyond the timescales that our daily lives suck us into. This we can learn from the Arctic.
By Sam Lee-Gammage
DateJune 29, 2011
Greetings from Longyearbeyen
We landed just 1400 km from North Pole… Surroundings is incredible after long time on the road everyting is getting smoothly. Glacier meeting town, sea and tundra flovers. Never ending sun is shining with burning strength, 10 degrees above zero. Only a unexpectedly great dinner in last civilization and we are leaving harbour on night sailing even more to the north.
DateJune 27, 2011