Posted on March 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Autumn freeze coming 11 days later in some regions
There’s probably no stopping the decline of Arctic sea ice.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Averaged across the Arctic, the melt season is lengthening by five days each decade, with much of the change coming in the fall, when a warmer ocean simply takes longer to freeze than in the past.
“The extent of sea ice in the Arctic has been declining for the last four decades,” said University College London researcher Julienne Stroeve, part of a research team that studied satellite data to track sea ice trends in the age of global warming.
The data confirm that the Arctic Ocean absorbing ever more of the sun’s energy in summer, leading to an ever later appearance of sea ice in the autumn. In some regions, autumn freeze-up is occurring up to 11 days per decade later than it used to. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate, global warming, sea ice extent | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 28, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists see changes in the way marine mammals use the Bering Strait. Photo courtesy NASA.
Scientists say mitigation needed to protect marine life in the region
FRISCO — American and Russian scientists studying the Bering Strait say that global warming is changing the way marine mammals use the area. Species at home farther south are using the narrow passage to the Arctic Ocean much more often, the researchers said after monitoring the area for three years with underwater microphones.
The recordings show Arctic beluga and bowhead whales migrating seasonally through the region from the Arctic south to spend winter in the Bering Sea. They also detect large numbers of sub-Arctic humpback, fin and killer whales traveling north through the Bering Strait to feed in the biologically rich Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, climate and weather, ocean conservation, Arctic | Tagged: Bering Strait, climate, global warming, oceans, whales | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New tool to help coastal and ocean planners in the region
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With Arctic sea ice at an all-time record low for late January and the melt season about to begin, researchers have created a new online tool that helps put ice conditions in historical perspective. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, climate change, Sea ice | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The magnitude of surface darkening is twice as large as that found in previous studies
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The Arctic ice cap is more than just a home for polar bears. During the summer, the vast expanse of white helps cool the earth — like putting a wet, white bandana on your head during a hot summer summer day.
But as the sea ice extent shrinks each year, the cooling effect is diminished. And climate models may be underestimating the impacts of the loss of Arctic Sea ice, according to new research based on detailed satellite measurements of the Earth’s reflectivity.
As the sea ice melts, its white reflective surface is replaced by a relatively dark ocean surface. This diminishes the amount of sunlight being reflected back to space, causing Earth to absorb an increasing amount of solar energy. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic albedo, Arctic sea ice, Environment, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Study links warming climate and Arctic cyclone frequency
A cyclonic storm spins over the center of the Arctic Ocean. Photo courtesy NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team. Visit this NASA website for more information.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A changing air pressure regime over the Arctic resulting from warmer temperatures may be driving an increase in extreme storms in the region. The hurricane-like cyclones that traverse the northern waters from Iceland to Alaska may foreshadow even more intense weather ahead, according to Dr. Stephen Vavrus, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“This research shows that the Arctic appears to be expressing symptoms expected from ongoing climate change,” Vavrus said, explaining the findings of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.
“The long-term decline in atmospheric pressure over most of the Arctic is consistent with the response typically simulated by climate models to greenhouse warming, and this study finds a general corresponding increase in the frequency of extreme Arctic cyclones since the middle 19th century,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, Arctic sea ice, climate, extreme weather, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Rapid climate change in the Arctic is putting enormous pressure on ecosystems, threatening biodiversity and the fundamental way of life of indigenous Arctic peoples, scientists said in a major new report.
“An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever,” said Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report.
According to the findings, unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment. The report was prepared by 253 scientists from 15 countries under the auspices of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, Arctic biodiversity, climage change impacts, global warming | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists ‘shocked’ at rapid pace of change found in recent study
Some of Canada’s subarctic lakes, seen here from a passenger jet, are drying up in yet another sign of abrupt climate change. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO —Sea ice isn’t the only thing that’s disappearing quickly in the Arctic. Lake ice is also dwindling — it’s getting thinner and the overall length of the ice season is now three weeks shorter than in 1950, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo. Another recent study showed that some of Canada’s Arctic lakes are actually drying up.
“We’ve found that the thickness of the ice has decreased tremendously in response to climate warming in the region,” said lead author Cristina Surdu, a PhD student of Professor Claude Duguay in Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management. “When we saw the actual numbers we were shocked at how dramatic the change has been. It’s basically more than a foot of ice by the end of winter.”
The study of more than 400 lakes of the North Slope of Alaska, is the first time researchers have been able to document the magnitude of lake-ice changes in the region over such a long period of time. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: Arctic, Arctic lakes, climate change, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A polar bear roams a coastal strand. Photo courtesy Susanne Miller, USFWS.
Studies show changing foraging behavior
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A shared genetic heritage with brown bears may enable some polar bears to adapt as their icy Arctic hunting grounds shrink in the face of global warming.
As Arctic sea ice dwindles, polar bears have a limited amount of time to hunt their historically preferred prey — ringed seal pups — and must spend more time on land.
But polar bears in the western Hudson Bay region are using flexible foraging strategies while on land, such as prey-switching and eating a mixed diet of plants and animals, as they survive in their rapidly changing environment.
“There is little doubt that polar bears are very susceptible as global climate change continues to drastically alter the landscape of the northern polar regions,” said Robert Rockwell, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History’s department of ornithology. “But we’re finding that they might be more resilient than is commonly thought.” Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate change, endangered species, global warming, polar bears | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A federal court this week ruled that the Bureau of Energy Management violated environmental laws when it sold leases for fossil fuel production in the Chukchi Sea.
Judges say feds made ‘arbitrary and capricious’ decision on how much oil can be extracted
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — There’s no question that there is a lot of oil beneath the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, and the Chukchi Sea, specifically.
But exactly how much is a question that is still open to debate, according to a federal court, which this week ruled that the U.S. Department of Interior made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision when it sold drilling rights in the area back in 2008 based on an estimate of about 1 billion barrels of oil.
Federal officials may have pulled that number out of a hat, the three-hudge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, ordering the federal government to revise the environmental study for the 2008 lease sale. The court also said federal officials may have low-balled potential environmental impacts of fossil fuel development in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Chukchi Sea, offshore drilling | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Global warming continues to spur changes in the Arctic at an unprecedented rate, scientists said this week, warning that the impacts will be felt around the world.
“The Arctic is not like Vegas,” said University of Virginia environmental scientist Howard Epstein. “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” he said, explaining that the rapid warming in the polar region may already be affecting weather in the mid-latitudes.
A panel of researchers presented the results of the 2013 Arctic report card during the annual American Geophysical Union conference this week, stating with more certainty than ever that the loss of Arctic sea ice is linked with more extreme weather events across the U.S. and Europe. Read the full report here. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: 2013 Arctic report card, Arctic, climate change, global warming | 1 Comment »