Climate: New clues for West Antarctic ice sheet melting

New data shows warm ocean currents melting the ice from below

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Antarctic sea ice has expanded slightly in recent years, but the continental ice shelves are losing mass. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — New data from sensors in the Amundsen Sea suggest more strongly than ever that warm ocean currents are causing extensive ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Ice in the area is melting faster than expected and could contribute significantly to sea level rise, but there’s been very little data from the region. The latest observations by oceanographers from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) were recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Previous research by the British Antarctic Survey showed that rising air temperatures in the region will break down a hydrological boundary of cold water, allowing warmer water to infiltrate beneath the ice. Continue reading

Swedish biologists launch last-ditch effort to save coral reef

A specimen of Lophelia pertusa, a rare cold water coral species. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Transplanting corals from nearby Norwegian waters may help reef survive trawling, sedimentation threats

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Biologists have launched a restoration effort at Sweden’s only coral reef, which has been hammered by trawling and increased sedimentation from eutrophication. Continuous observations with remotely operated vehicles shows  the health of the reef slowly continues to decline.

To try and restore the the Säcken reef in the Koster Fjord, researchers with the University of Gothenburg are transplanting healthy corals from nearby reefs in Norway. The species of coral in question, Lophelia pertusa, requires an environment with a constant high level of salinity and low water temperatures all year round. In Sweden, these conditions only exist in the northern part of Bohuslän, where deep water from the Atlantic is led in via the Norwegian Trench.

“We’ve known since the mid-1920s that cold-water coral reefs exist here in Sweden,” said marine biologist and researcher Mikael Dahl. “At that time, corals could be found in three locations in the Koster Fjord. Today, only the Säcken reef remains, and it’s in poor condition.” Continue reading

Baltic Sea facing global warming woes

The Baltic Sea. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Swedish study pinpoints climate change impacts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Swedish researchers have scaled down global warming models to calculate the effect on a specific region, finding that, by the end of the 21st century, Baltic Sea temperatures and salinity will be higher than at any time since 1850, potentially with major consequences for the marine environment.

“This is the first time that anyone has taken a detailed look at how climate models and individual factors combine to affect a specific region,” said Jonathan Havenhand from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The increase in temperature will cause the oxygen content of the water to fall, making the effects of eutrophication more pronounced. The change in salt content may result in species that are currently at the edge of their dispersion area disappearing, leading to a decline in the diversity of species. Continue reading

Global warming: Arctic seas becoming sources of CO2

Swedish researchers pinpoint scary climate feedback loop

Arctic seas becoming carbon sources instead of carbon sinks. IMAGE COURTESY NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Instead of absorbing heat-trapping gases, Arctic near-shore seas are becoming sources of carbon dioxide, accorindg to researchers from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg. With careful measurements, the scientists found that the amount of CO2 being absorbed by the oceans is decreasing.

That leads to an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and an increased rate of warming in the Arctic in a self-reinforcing climate feedback loop that includes some unexpected factors. For example, increased coastal erosion carries more organic matter into the sea, where it breaks down and releases even more CO2. Continue reading

Global warming: Arctic is greening up

Arctic study plots dating back 30 years in some cases show incontrovertible changes in vegetation linked with rising temperatures. PHOTO COURTESY ULF MOLAU.

Long-term research shows patterns of change linked with temperature and soil moisture

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Swedish scientists from the University of Gothenburg say they’ve linked changes in Arctic vegetation with increasing temperatures. Many Arctic plants are growing taller, the proportion of ground covered with plants has grown, and, above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs.

“We’ve managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming, … the vegetation changes in our fixed plots are a result of local warming at numerous sites across the world’s tundra,” said University of Gothenburg. biologist Robert Björk. Continue reading

‘Climate-smart’ diet could reduce greenhouse gases

Pound for pound, beef production accounts for a huge amount of greenhouse gas production. PHOTO USDA.

Swedish researchers propose climate tax on meat and milk; food production contributes 25 percent of global greenhouse gases

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With methane and nitrogen oxides from food production accounting for 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, there’s room to make some significant reductions. One way to influence the consumption of products that generate the highest amount of those gases could be to impose a climate tax on meat and milk, according to researchers at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.

In a paper published in the journal Climate Change, Kristina Mohlin, Stefan Wirsenius and Fredrik Hedenus concluded that a €60 tax per ton of CO2 equivalent on meat and milk could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 7 percent. If the land were to be used for bioenergy production instead of dairy and meat, emissions could be cut sixfold, they said.

“Today we have taxes on petrol and a trading scheme for industrial plants and power generation, but no policy instruments at all for food-related greenhouse gas emissions. This means that we do not pay for the climate costs of our food,” said Hedenus. Continue reading

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