Posted on January 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Austfonna ice field has thinned by more than 150 feet in just 3 years
FRISCO — If sudden changes on a small island in the Svalbard Archipelago are any indication, then the Greenland Ice Sheet could be in big trouble as the Arctic warms up.
Satellite images show that the Austfonna ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 — about one sixth of its original thickness — and that the ice is flowing 25 times faster than just a few years ago.
Scientists analyzing the data said they’re not exactly sure why the ice cap has changed so suddenly, but noted that the island is smack in the middle of one of the fastest-warming areas on the planet. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Artic meltdown, climate change, Cryosat, Environment, global warming, Svalbard | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 22, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Warm spells affect permafrost and wildlife
Caption: Arctic foxes in Svalbard will have more than enough food during rainy and icy winters because there will be many reindeer carcasses for them to eat. The next winter, however, the fox population size will be reduced because a robust and small reindeer population will mean many few deaths and hence, very little carrion.
Credit: Brage B. Hansen, NTNU Centre for Conservation Biology.
FRISCO — A closely studied 2012 rain-on-snow event in Svalbard, Norway gave researchers a chance to take a close look at how global warming may play out on the fringes of the Arctic, where humans eke out a delicate existence in balance with the elements.
The extreme weather event in January brought record warmth to the cluster of islands inside the Arctic Circle, with high temperatures climbing well above freezing at a time of year when average readings are well below freezing. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, climate change, extreme weather, global warming, Svalbard | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Spitsbergen is the largest of the islands in the Svalbard Archipelago. It sits well inside the Arctic Circle, just south of 80 degrees north latitude. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for information on this image.
Warmer ocean temperatures, more ship traffic will open the door for new marine organisms
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Scientists are warning that warmer ocean temperatures in the far north will open the door for aquatic invaders that could devastate native marine ecosystems.
So far, cold water temperatures have prevented most harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but the threat of invasive species will grow as the oceans warm and as ship traffic increases in the Arctic, said an international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Tromsø in Norway.
All in all, the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in Norway and Greenland. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, global warming, invasive species | Tagged: Arctic, climate change impacts, global warming, invasive species, Svalbard | 3 Comments »
Posted on September 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Evidence is growing that increasing levels of CO2 are going to have a fundamental impact on ocean plankton.
Changes likely to reduce oceans’ capacity to absorb carbon dioxide
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — In the great global warming experiment there will be winners and losers, and it looks like some of the tiniest plankton species will be among the winners — probably at the expense of larger species higher up the food chain.
Research off the coast of Svalbard, Norway in 2010 showed that the smallest plankton groups thrive at elevated carbon dioxide levels.
This could cause an imbalance in the food web as well as a decrease ocean CO2 uptake, an important regulator of global climate. The results of the study have been published in Biogeosciences, a journal of the European Geosciences Union. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, carbon dioxide, ocean acidification, Plankton, Svalbard | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
January sea ice extent has been dropping about 3 percent per decade, according to the NSIDC.
Northern hemisphere snow cover above average in December and January
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Arctic sea ice remained well below average during January, about 400,000 miles below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month and the sixth-lowest during the satellite record. The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest January extents in the satellite record.
According to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, January sea ice extent has been decreasing at abou 3.2 percent per decade. The largest areas of open water were around the Barents Sea and near Svalbard, northeast of Greenland. Sea ice extent was also below average along the east coast of Greenland. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: Arctic Ocean, Arctic sea ice January 2013, Barents Sea, greenland, Polar ice packs, Svalbard | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Arctic foxes in Svalbard will feel the effects of global warming, as rain-on-snow events change the abundance of prey animals. Photo by Brage B. Hansen, NTNU Centre for Conservation Biology.
Norwegian researchers document cascading environmental impacts
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Norwegian scientists say they’ve observed how climate-linked extreme weather events have affected not just single species, but an entire ecological community in the Arctic.
Rain-on-snow events caused synchronized population fluctuations among all vertebrate species in a relatively simple high arctic community, the scientists said after documenting how populations of three species crashed at the same time.
These findings, published in the Jan. 18 issue of Science, may be a bellwether of the radical changes in ecosystem stability that could result from anticipated future increases in extreme events. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, seasons, snow, Snow and weather | Tagged: Arctic, Arctic fox, climate change, Conservation biology, global warming, Reindeer, Rock Ptarmigan, Svalbard, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Is Svalbard ground zero for global warming?
August 2012 global temperatures anomalies.
Svalbard might be ground zero for global warming, with some research suggesting it may warm faster than any other spot on Earth. Photo courtesy, NASA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of researchers led by a Columbia University climate scientist William D’Andrea took direct aim at misleading information about historic climate records this week, releasing a study showing that temperatures in some parts of the Arctic are higher than they’ve been at any time during the past 1,800 years.Global warming deniers have used evidence of warmer temperatures during the so-called Medieval Warm Period to undermine the reality that heat-trapping greenhouse gases are inexorably warming the planet.
But the climate reconstruction from Svalbard casts new doubt on the reach of the Medieval Warm Period, and undercuts skeptics who argue that current warming is also natural. Since 1987, summers on Svalbard have been 2 degrees to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 4.5 degrees fahrenheit) hotter than they were there during warmest parts of the Medieval Warm Period, according to the new study. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic, climate change, global warming, Gulf Stream, Keck Geology Consortium, Medieval Warm Period, Svalbard, West Spitsbergen Current | Leave a comment »