Search Results for Tag: ice
Climate Update – and Pics from History
Apologies for a longish blog break, I have been busy on other matters.
Amongst other things, I’m working on what the media have to do to get the climate change message across.
On a recent trip to the German North Sea island of Norderney, I was pleasantly surprised to hear two couples, evidently 2 generations, discussing what would happen to those islands when sea levels rise. So the media they use have obviously been successful in getting that part of the message across.
On a subsequent visit to Scotland, I was horrified to hear people still doubting that our emissions are driving climate change.
So there’s still plenty work for us journalists to do.
Meanwhile, I’ve found a website that will fascinate Ice-Blog visitors.
Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute has a great collection of polar images, including Scott and Schackleton, but also images from more modern expeditions.
Now they have digitised negatives, daguerreotypes and lantern slides, and made them available online. You can find them here:
The “Freeze Frame” archive
Thanks to Anne. S. in Scotland for drawing my attention to this wonderful online archive.
And I’ll get back to my polar bear research, ahead of a historic meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which will take place in Tromsø, Norway, March 17-19, 2009. WWF says the meeting may be decisive for the fate of the world’s polar bears.
DateMarch 11, 2009 | 12:43 pm
Of Climate and Weather
I am currently speeding through the winter wonderland that the English midlands have become, enjoying the beauty of snow-covered fields, sharp reflections in brooks just tipped with ice,sheep trying to graze on regardless and birds of prey perching, watching out for some of nature’s “frozen food”.
My colleague Judith Hartl introduced me on her science programme as one of those strange people who like going to cold places. Iadmit I like ice and snow, although I’m amazed at how it has brought parts of Britain to a standstill.
My sister reckons I am somehow fighting a lost cause. “Everywhere you go, it’s snowing! How are you going to convince people about global warming?” Well, a lot of people make jokes or semi-serious comments about that in the coldish winter we’ve been having in a lot of places.The British media have been trying to explain to people that this is “just weather”. It’s only the long-term trend that makes climate.
I came across a good summary of the facts in an article by Richard Alleyne, science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (hardly a paper known for “alternative” views).
He says this is the coldest winter in Britain for 30 years, but the extreme weather proves the effects of global warming. Temperatures for the last 2 months were 1C lower than average, and London had more snow than any time since 1960s. But the fact people are surprised by this shows how the climate has changed over the decades.
A Met Office study going back 350 years indicates UK now gets this extreme weather only every 20 years.
I’ve just come from Shrewsbury, where, as it happens, amongst other things I visited rooms where Charles Dickens stayed while working on the Pickwick Papers. In the neighbourhood is Ironbridge, one of the “cradles” of the industrial revolution.
Back in the pre-industrial Dickens days, cold winters like these would have occurred in Britain on average every 5 years, according to the Met Office scientists. If it wasn’t for global warming, this would be more “normal”, we’d be prepared, and able to cope.On various Arctic trips, the ice blogger has had fewer transport problems than on this one. Can anybody in the Midlands lend me a team of huskies?!
(Huskies raring to take off with their sled in Tromso in January)
DateFebruary 5, 2009 | 2:05 pm
Glaciers melting twice as fast as in 80s and 90s
(Kongswegen glacier, Svalbard, 2007)
The World Glacier Monitoring Service is based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Their latest summary of results indicates the world’s glaciers are continuing to melt rapidly. The Alps are particularly badly hit, with a much faster melting rate than the world average.
WGMS scientist Michael Zemp says 2007 was the 6th year this century with glaciers losing an average of more than half a metre of ice. This means the melting rate has doubled, he says, in comparison with the 1980s and 90s.
The WGMS Director is one of the world’s leading glacier experts. This background info. is worth a read, if you are interested in glaciers and how the information is collected:
DateFebruary 3, 2009 | 8:07 am
Greta and Johannes should now be on board their ship.
Sounds like they’ll be busy for quite some time today before they get time to blog.
In the meantime, I’d like to respond to Eliza Honey, who says she loved the photos on the Ice Blog but dreads the message. “Early reading of books re;Antartica and the Arctic were a formative experience in the late 40’s. As old age approaches and the chaotic world continues on its path to destruction I wish strength to your arm and those dedicated people around you. Keep up the good work and more photos please”, says Eliza.
Well, Eliza, while we wait for our dedicated young “ambassadors” to send us their first report from Svalbard, Spitzbergen, here are some more pictures which I took during a trip to the scientific research base in Ny Alesund, Spitzbergen, this time last year.
There is a “flash gallery” with more if you click here:
The runway at Ny Alesund – cleared of snow in June.
The “3 Crowns” at midnight
Views from the Monitoring Station above Ny Alesund
A Svalbard reindeer, in Longyearben.
DateJune 11, 2008 | 9:38 am
No More Ice for the Blog? (And Rabbie on the Retreat)
There are around 10,000 glaciers in the area around Whittier. All in all 29,000 square miles – 5% of the state of Alaska – are made up of glaciers. But with temperatures clearly on the rise, the ice is melting so fast that people here are talking of a boom in “climate change tourism”. – “See the glaciers before they’re gone”. Cynical? Bizzare? There is the old maxim that tourism destroys what it seeks. Climate change adds another factor. Some food for thought there. I talked to some of the young “climate ambassadors” about our own carbon footprint in doing this trip.
The background to the Climate Change College Arctic Field-Trip
Calculating your carbon footprint
(Erika, Aart and Cara “performing” for their project videos, linking climate protection at home to the melting of the Arctic ice. Check out Cara’s website:
Green “Do it yourself”
Start “Global WORMing by contacting Erika@ClimateChangeCollege.Org. Aart’s project info via Aart@ClimateChangeCollege.Org)
The organisers are paying into a fund to offset the emissions from travel. And the idea is that these youngsters will be doing such a lot to spread the word about what we’re doing to the planet with global warming – and what we can still do to cope with the changes and halt the trend – that it will be more than worth the trip. And after spending 10 days with them, I’m sure that’s very true. The projects they’re working in at home – some full-time, some alongside other jobs – show a deep commitment to finding solutions. Our Swedish ambassador Jakob Rutqvist in particular keeps reminding me that it’s not just about spreading the word but finding creative ways to tackle the problem and move forward. He’s involved in a very high-powered network, supported by WWF, aimed at encouraging innovation across the globe when it comes to reducing emissions and halting global warming.
The “Global Focus Network”
Jakob is currently planning a trip to China in June to meet potential partners in finding solutions to energy and other problems in a country that is crucial to safeguarding the future because of its huge population. He’s also the Swedish youth representative at a big gathering in Stockholm next weekend to discuss climate issues.
He’s invited Aart, the Dutch climate ambassador to go along. I’ve recruited them both to report on the conference for Deutsche Welle. This is a perfect story for our youth programme COOL. Anke and Laura, if you’re reading this, I think I’ve found you two new reporters.
Click here for the “coolest programme on the air”
Jakob and Aart are both keen to disprove the popular assumption that – unlike the 1968 generation being celebrated in the media at the moment 40 years on – today’s youth are not interested in activism or committed to change. They want to make a statement to demonstrate the opposite.
Aart told me he was really flabbergasted by our visit to the Begich Boggs glacier visitors centre.There’s a magnificent glass-walled viewing room. The trouble is that the Portage glacier has retreated so far that you can’t see it all from the centre. In less than 70 years, it has receded more than 2 miles. So there is an impressive view of Portage lake, iced over, and snowy hills, but definitely no glacier.
What bothered me just as much was that I wasn’t allowed to interview our guide through the centre or record any of her talk. – Because it was about climate change. She wasn’t authorized to speak officially on that. Melting Ice is clearly a “hot” topic.
The talk was informative, though, so thanks to our guide for that, even though she can’t be on the programme.
The glaciers in this area bear the names of famous authors –Byron, Shakespeare and – Robert Burns. Friends of Scotland please take note. Rabbie is definitely on the retreat in this area of Alaska. I hope it only applies to the glaciers.
More about Scotland and the network of Scots abroad
To get up close to the glaciers, we took a trip on a “landing boat”, loaded with kayaks for the ultimate and “otterly environment-friendly” approach to the ice wonders. (We met plenty of those “otterly laid-back” little sea “critters” on the way – and I enjoyed exchanging those otterly corny puns with Sebastian, a colleague on the trip. Thanks Seb.)
Our guide Andy is very experienced in minimum-impact camping, and made sure we didn’t disturb nature too much and just had the basics – but the right gear for the conditions.Sleeping in the vicinity of glaciers is an odd experience.
We had been prepared to sleep on thick snow, but our campsite was actually snow-free. Only the water was full of “ice cubes”.
Our three glaciers were rumbling so much during the night I thought I was in a thunderstorm. You frequently hear explosive crashes, and a bit closer up the ice crackles and pops away constantly.
“Sound-Rich Ice” (to be heard soon on Living Planet!)
The environment program you should be listening to every week. Podcast?
The ambassadors used the glacier background trip to film scenes for their “project movies”, linking their work at home to the dramatic ice melt in this very sensitive region. Ines from Spain braved the icy temperatures in her bikini and a rubber dingy.
The first half of her film had been shot in an empty outdoor pool at home, demonstrating the drought conditions which are causing desperate water shortages in Portugal. Her idea was to show that you might have to go a very long way to get water.
Unfortunately our trip was flawed when our expedition leader Marc Cornelissen – the mastermind behind the “Climate Change College” – got a message by satellite phone that his father was critically ill. Visibility was too poor for a helicopter to collect him, so Andy took him off in the “Zodiac” boat to meet another boat coming in from Whittier to take him back. This was very sad for all the group, as the field trip and Marc’s whole project was just coming to its highpoint. They all coped very well, including taking over the logistics of getting the group and all their equipment organised for the trip home afterwards.We hope things will work out OK for Marc.
Marc told his ambassadors as he left they had to see the project through. So the kayak trip went ahead.
We paddled through a field of mini ice-bergs. Now I know what it feels to be a slice of lemon in a glass of fizzy drink with ice cubes in it. I recorded as we went along – and even interviewed Marie Laure from kayak to kayak as we reached our destination – as close as safety would allow to the 3 glaciers.
She’s in love with snow and ice, but concerned that people looking to enjoy it on the ski slopes of Europe use up too many of our natural resources, with artificial snow and a huge amount of water in general. Her project is to save on water consumption in the ski resorts of her home in France by simple things like water-saving showerheads. She told me about it and her deep concern about global warming as we sat and marvelled at the glaciers – and the sound of them melting and breaking in the background.
That would be a good place to end this entry of the “Ice Blog”. The Climate College Field Trip has come to an end. But of course climate change is a never-ending story. Back in Bonn, Germany, we’re in a heat wave, with high summer temperatures, and it’s only early May. (The mosquitos were already out in Fairbanks, by the way, way too early, the locals said). I heard on the radio that the oil supply will “peak” as early as in 10 years. And the IPCC climate chief says the sea level increase through global warming definitely exacerbated the effects of the disastrous cyclone in Myanmar.
Watch this space for more Arctic pictures and climate news and views in the weeks to come.
– Not the End –
DateMay 11, 2008 | 12:57 pm
TagsAlaska, Arctic, Climate, Climate Change College, glaciers, ice, Living Planet, Media, Robert Burns, Scotland, snow, USA, WWF, Youth