Search Results for Tag: sea ice
Drop-off at Daneborg Base
This is the runway at Daneborg, on the coast, around 25 km from Zackenberg.
There’s still a little ice on the sea here.(But all the scientific research at Z. confirms the trend of a decrease in the perennial sea-ice).
There is an old trapper station here, used nowadays with the other buildings here by the Danish military SIRIUS patrol, the one that’s famous for its dogsled activities. That goes out to patrol the coast and surrounding areas in the winter.
Denmark is keen to establish its sovereignty here on the remote north-east coast. The national park is the biggest park in the world, and there’s not much in the way of human activity up here. The territory of East Greenland was disputed by Norway early in the 20th century. These days, there’s a lot of talk of increasing military activities up here because of the growing interest in the natural resources of the Arctic, especially the supplies of oil thought to lie hidden under the ice at the moment. The parties in the Danish parliament recently agreed to create a special Arctic Task Force, combining those elements of their military units (mainly for Greenland and the Faroe Islands) specialized in Arctic activities. A Greenland home rule adviser told me he does not see this as increased militarization of the Arctic, as some fear, but just as an organisational shift, which will not include more resources. It certainly means a change in focus.There are likely to be more aircraft coming in here, at any rate.
Denmark has put forward claims to extend the continental shelf by territory around Greenland. Other Arctic states have put in their own claims. The UN commission on the Law of the Sea has to decide who owns what territory and could therefore lay claim to any oil, gas or mineral reserves found there.
Fuel for the base and Zackenberg is shipped into Daneborg, then flown on in smaller quantities.
Time to take off, and for the next stretch I have the famous POF twin otter all to myself.
This is going to be spectacular, as we are moving in from the coast a little over the icy mountains. Taking pictures in this historic plane can be challenging:
But I have a couple of windows to choose from – as long as I can reach them without loosening the belt.
I love the changing landscape and all the features you can see in the snow, flying this low:
I have many more of these ice-blog views, but will close for now with this one.
Nicely framed, huh? Courtesy of Twin Otter Pof.
Next stop, Krume Langso, the “long, curved lake”.
DateJuly 24, 2009 | 3:11 pm
No going back for the Arctic
(No emissions from this one for a while)
Professor Jean-Claude Gascard from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, heads the EU’s Damocles project, identifying the challenges from climate change. He gave a very sobering summary of the state of the Arctic sea ice and confirmed there is virtually no chance of reversing the current warming trend. Only several extremely severe winters could do that, and the scientific community is not expecting that.
Scientists tend to be reluctant to come out with anything they can’t prove, and Prof. Gascard summed up the main elements behind this conviction. Sea ice extent, depths, age and drift are key factors, as well as the air temperature and the number of “freezing degree days”.
By 2002 the ice was at a minimum based on some 50 years of observation. In 2005, there was no “replenishment” of older, multi-year ice exiting the Arctic ocean. This, Prof. Gascard describes as a “tipping point”.
The ice thickness has decreased over a wide area from more than 3 metres 20 or 30 years ago to around 1.5 metres. I remember my trip out on the sea ice in Barrow, Alaska, with Dr. Chris Petrich and the Climate Change College “ambassadors”. I can hear Erika Naga reading out the measurement “1 metre 40”, and the Inupiat telling us how it used to be much thicker.
The ice is melted in various ways: through warmer water from the Atlantic and Pacific underneath, heat from storms and increased radiation from above.
2007 of course was the year that really made everybody wake up. When the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern went out to set up ice platforms, there was no ice in their target area. The Tara, which has been frozen in and drifting with the ice to compare ice drift with the “Fram” expedition has been drifting three times faster than her predecessor. And the sea ice reached its minimum. 2008 saw almost the same negative record.
Sea ice reflects much more heat back into the atmosphere than water, (albedo effect) which is much darker and absorbs it, exacerbating the warming, in what’s called a “feedback loop”. Again, I was reminded of our trip on the Chukchi Sea with Chris Petrich from the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, who is collecting data on this to be put into global models.
And the number of “freezing degree days” has dropped massively in the last few years.
Professor Gascard’s summary of all this is available online on the Arctic Frontiers site.
And if you have the time and the inclination, have a(nother?) listen to the feature on my trip onto the sea ice with the Climate Change College.
Tromsö today (the days are getting lighter):
DateJanuary 23, 2009 | 4:35 pm
Tromsö in the pink
I have arrived in Tromso after one of the most beautiful flights I can remember.
Oslo was dull and greyish, albeit with loads of snow. As we got further north, the skies got clearer and the pilot told us we could expect “perfect” weather conditions, clear skies, just a little scattered cloud. He war right. We were coming in just after midday, so getting the “pink light” hours, before the winter afternoon blackness. Some impressions from the plane window:
On the plane earlier, I had been reading a book called “Climate Code Red” – the case for emergency action, by David Spratt and Philip Sutton. The authors are convinced we need emergency action to REDUCE the temperature of the planet, not just reduce the amount by which we’re increasing it.
Chapter 1 is called “Losing the Arctic Sea Ice”. It is perfect reading material in the run-up to the “Arctic Frontiers” conference. More about the book later. As I looked out of the window, I couldn’t help thinking the beauty of the region itself should make enough of a case for saving it.
Last night I visited some friends with children who are doing a project on the Arctic in primary school. I was delighted at their interest – and at how much they were aware of climate change and, for instance, the problems it causes for polar bears. They looked up Tromsö on their map and their globe. I hope they’ll see these pictures too at some stage.
This is the approach to Tromsö:
From a different angle, the picture is almost black and white:
By the time I went out for a walk it was dark. Tromsö is reasonably busy, as an international film festival has just come to an end – and of course the conference starts tonight. I’m hoping to see some “northern lights” tonight, although it could be too bright here in the town.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed the man-made kind: (The triangle is the famous “Arctic Cathedral”).
The buildings on the wharf also looked very different from last time I saw them in summer, when it was still light when I went to bed..
And I’ve called this one “deflated”. You wouldn’t want to depend on this one to abandon ship at the moment:
DateJanuary 18, 2009 | 4:16 pm
This week’s Arctic news has been pretty drastic. The current autumn temperature is five degrees higher than the average. 2007 was the warmest year ever in the Arctic, since people started to record the temperature. The sea ice, as we know, has decreased dramatically.
This is all based on figures from NOAA, the US climate research body (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
NOAA statistics and reports
The Polarstern (translates as Pole Star), the research vessel belonging to the German polar agency AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) returned to base after being the first research vessel to sail right round the north pole because the north-west passage was open as well as the north-east.
The Polarstern voyage around the North Pole
White ice and snow reflect heat back into the atmosphere. Water,open because the ice has melted, is darker and absorbs heat, warming the ocean further. The Arctic is heating up at an alarming rate.
“Rudy” sent a comment in to the Ice Blog. He still isn’t convinced about global warming, it seems. I’m still trying to understand how that can be and what his point of view is.
Rudy, forgive me for not publishing the comment, but it contains abridged quotes from people without the context. Without being able to check the context, I can’t put them up here.
I’m happy to pick up on some of your points, though.
You’re right. Thankfully, the Arctic was not ice-free in 2008.(I didn’t think it would be, neither did most reliable sources I follow). But sea-ice cover hit a record low in 2007 and is not recovering. The North-West passage has been open. And the warming trend is continuing. Changes in flora and fauna are being witnessed and recorded. This is happening. And things are changing fast.
You say winds and circulation are causes of sea-ice melting, not global warming. Sure, winds and circulation play an important role. Nobody would dispute that. But these factors are all connected. And the climate is changing. I’ve talked to scientists from all over the world who are desperately trying to make predictions for the future. Nobody has a crystal ball. But we know humankind is pumping masses of CO2 into the atmosphere, melting permafrost is releasing methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere at an increasing rate. Of course there are natural climate cycles. But we are having our own effect.
I was talking to some British friends this weekend, who suggested we should really get away from the misleading “global warming” talk and refer to “climate change”. Apart from the jokes about the British wanting warmer weather anyway – of course climate change manifests itself in colder weather in some places at some times. Is it just the “global warming” term that bothers you?
What bothers me right now is that our EU countries are thinking about reducing their commitment to climate-saving measures because of the global financial crisis. If we don’t take action now, we might not have a globe we can live on, let alone finances to worry about.
I wish someone could convince me that’s too pessimistic?
DateOctober 22, 2008 | 6:27 am
TagsArctic, AWI, CO2, economics, EU, NOAA, north pole, Polarstern, science, sea ice, Warming, weather
"Russian" for Control of the Melted Arctic?
Chaudhary has thanked the Ice Blog for “very cool and also very hot information about ice”. Thanks for your interest Chaudhary, hope you’ll carry on reading and sending me feedback.
Keeping my eye out for the latest “cool and hot” ice info this week, I’m afraid it’s the Russians who’ve been making the most headlines. President Medvedev has told his people to draft a law marking out Russia’s borders in the Arctic. This is all part of an ongoing dispute between various countries on who can lay claim to which parts of the Arctic region. The parties have actually agreed to let the UN decide on this. Russia, Canada, The United States, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland) are the rivals for control. Interest has increased since the US Geological Survey said back in July that some 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered gas lies under the Arctic seabed.
It’s a sad state of affairs, but there are actually people looking forward to further melting of the Arctic ice, which could give easier access to more oil and gas. Burning it would then “fuel” the global warming process further and reduce the pressure to increase the use of renewable energy sources.
Representatives of the five “Arctic” countries had a meeting in Greenland last week, but not a lot seems to have come out of it. That’s one of the issues I discussed with Dr. Martin Sommerkorn, WWF’s Arctic climate specialist.
You can listen to or download that longer version of the interview here.
Worrying news. At the same time, the Russians are increasing the pressure to let them exploit the region’s natural resources.
Meanwhile, the official figures on the extent of the Arctic ice confirm the continuing decline.The website of the National Snow and Ice Data Center has the latest information.
Facts and figures on the current state of the Arctic sea ice
DateSeptember 18, 2008 | 11:18 am