Shell wants to hang on to Arctic Ocean drilling leases

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Shell isn’t ready completely give up on the idea of drilling for fossil fuel in the Arctic Ocean.

Company seeks extension from appeals board

Staff Report

*Read more Summit Voice stories on Shell’s ill-fated Arctic drilling program here.

It was big news when Shell Oil in September announced it was shutting down its contested Arctic drilling program, but the company apparently doesn’t want give up completely. Just a couple of months after the big news, Shell sought at least extend the life of its leases in the region.

Without an extension, the company’s Beaufort Sea leases are set to expire in 2017, and its Chukchi Sea leases in 2020. The U.S. Interior Department has already denied the extension, but company is now challenging that decision with the Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals. Continue reading

Annual NOAA report documents continued global warming impacts in the Arctic

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The Arctic continues to warm much faster than the rest of the planet, according to NOAA’s annual Arctic report card.

Scientists track fish populations, ice extent and river discharge

Staff Report

Temperatures across the Arctic were the warmest on record in 2015, ranging more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Arctic report card.

Released earlier this month, the report showed documents increasing air and sea surface temperatures, decreasing sea ice extent and Greenland ice sheet mass, and changing behavior of fish and walrus in the region.

The report card is a “key tool” to understanding how the changes will affect communities, businesses, and people around the world,” according NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Rick Spinrad. Continue reading

USGS study projects Alaska permafrost losses

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A new USGS study projects a significant permafrost meltdown in Alaska by 2100.

Near-surface permafrost areas could shrink by 16-24 percent

Staff Report

Global warming is likely to take a big bite out of Alaska’s permafrost the next few decades, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after analyzing new satellite data.

The maps suggest that the near-surface permafrost that presently underlies 38 percent of boreal and arctic Alaska would be reduced by 16 to 24 percent by the end of the 21st century under widely accepted climate scenarios. Permafrost declines are more likely in central Alaska than northern Alaska. Continue reading

Arctic Ocean oil and gas lease auctions canceled

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Arctic Ocean oil and gas drilling is off the table for now.

Feds also deny requests for extension of current leases

Staff Report

Drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. slice of the Arctic Ocean is a no-go for the foreseeable future, federal officials said this week, canceling plans for future lease sales and denying extension requests for existing leases.

Citing market conditions and low industry interest, the U.S. Department of the Interior said it’s canceling two potential Arctic offshore lease sales scheduled under the current five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program. The decision comes on the heals of Shell’s announcement to halt exploration in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading

Global warming to boost Arctic mosquitoes

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Global warming likely to boost Arctic mosquito populations.

Impacts likely to ripple through Arctic ecosystem

Staff Report

LINZ — Global warming is likely to lead to bigger and badder Arctic mosquito swarms, according to a new Dartmouth College study. Already, warming temperatures are causing Arctic mosquitoes to grow faster and hatch earlier, significantly boosting their population and threatening caribou.

The study predicts the mosquitoes’ probability of surviving and emerging as adults will increase by more than 50 percent if Arctic temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius. Changes in the timing and intensity of mosquito emergence will have a ripple effect on other parts of Arctic ecosystems, including Arctic and migratory birds.

Continue reading

NASA to take big-picture look at Arctic climate change

Space-based data to help reveal ecosystem changes

Satellites have long been tracking sea ice loss in the Canadian Arctic, and new climate models suggest that glaciers in the region are also declining rapidly. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information.

Satellites have long been tracking sea ice loss in the Canadian Arctic, and new climate models suggest that glaciers in the region are also declining rapidly. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With more and more studies showing big climate-change impacts to Arctic and subarctic ecosystems, NASA is launching a research project to try and understand the bigger picture.

Some recent studies have shown how boreal forests are shifting quickly as temperatures in the high latitudes soar faster than than the rest of the planet. Biologists are trying to project how global warming will affect wildlife in the region, while another study projects that the “green-up” of the Arctic will amplify global warming.

NASA’s 10-year Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) will bring together on-the-ground research in Alaska and northwestern Canada with data collected by NASA airborne instruments, satellites and other agency programs, including SMAP, OCO-2, and upcoming ICESat-2 and NISAR missions. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice dwindles to second-lowest extent ever

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Arctic sea ice now at it’s second-lowest extent on record. @bberwyn photo.

Antarctic sea ice extent below average for the first time in four years

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a mid-month update, researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said that Arctic sea ice has dwindled to the second-lowest extent on record, with an above-average melt rate during the first half of August. The only time there was less sea ice was in 2012, which set the record for the lowest extent.

The NSIDC also reported that Antarctic sea ice extent is below the 1981 to 2010 average for the first time in nearly four years. Antarctic sea ice expanded by just 96,500 square miles between August 1 and August 17, and retreated around the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Ross Sea, and around the coast of Wilkes Land. Continue reading

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