Global sea ice at record low in November

Arctic sea ice declined in mid-November

Researchers are starting to understand how shifting wind patterns are driving changes in Antarctic sea ice extent. Bob Berwyn photo.
Researchers are starting to understand how shifting wind patterns are driving changes in Antarctic sea ice extent. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice extent set a new record low this near, heightening concerns that the pace of the Arctic meltdown is speeding up. Antarctic sea ice extent also declined to a record low for the month, with sea ice cover worldwide dropping to an exceptionally low level, according the scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Specifically, the blanket of ice around the North Pole averaged 3.51 million square miles for the month, the lowest November in the satellite record, and 309,000 square miles below the record set in November 2006. Through 2016, the linear rate of decline for November is 21,400 square miles per year, or 5.0 percent per decade. Continue reading “Global sea ice at record low in November”

At the nexus of climate change and invasive species

What happens when the trout streams warm?

A palm-size brook trout, caught in the Tenmile Creek drainage near Copper Mountain.
A palm-size brook trout, caught in the Tenmile Creek drainage near Copper Mountain. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have completed one of the first experimental studies to explore links between climate change and invasive species, specifically how  brook trout and brown trout interact with rising stream temperatures. They found that non-native browns limit the ability of brook trout to use warmer water temperatures, By contrast, removin of browns brook trouts’ reach into warmer waters.

Brookies are freshwater fish native to eastern North America and threatened by climate change because of their requirement for cold stream temperatures. Brown trout are native to Europe and have been introduced all around North America. Continue reading “At the nexus of climate change and invasive species”

Sunday set: Winter, from the vault

The colder the better!

A quick flashback set featuring winter scenes from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It’s not always that easy to get motivated for a photo session when it’s below freezing outside, but it’s always worth it when you do, because, well, there are some things that you can only see in winter — delicate ice filaments forming on the surface of a creek that somehow manages to keep flowing through sub-zero air, or a winter storm clearing just in time to give way to the warm orange glow of sunrise. And it’s always fun to take a look at the structure of ice. So don’t put away your camera when the weather gets chilly. Just make sure your batteries are fully charged

Around the world with Summit Voice

Links to our climate and international news reporting …

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How much longer will the cryosphere last? @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Not as much content as usual on Summit Voice this week, but that’s because we were busy reporting elsewhere, with a few noteworthy stories. For example, Austria is holding a presidential election tomorrow (Sunday, Dec. 4) and the election of Donald Trump became an issue in the last few weeks of the campaign. I co-reported a story on the election with the European bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor, including an interview with an American expat involved in the campaign.

Also published did a couple of pieces for Pacific Standard, including a photo essay on the Earth’s vanishing cryosphere, and an in-depth story about how the incoming Trump administration could undermine the integrity of science-based decision making in government agencies. Another article from a couple of weeks ago in Pacific Standard took a look at whether the world can still achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement if the U.S. withdraws.

And at InsideClimate News, I reported on potential climate change links to the devastating wildfires in the Southeast, as well as on a new study suggesting that heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution is shifting the track of Atlantic hurricanes to the north, where they are more likely to hit the Northeast coast.

I also took a close look at Germany’s ambitious new climate action plan, which aims to decarbonize the country’s economy by 2050. Absent U.S. leadership on climate policy, other major western industrial countries will have to lead by example.

Satellite mapping could help avert whale-ship crashes

Naval training exercises off the coast of California could pose a threat to endangered marine mammals.
A new satellite mapping program could help avert collisions between whales and ships . Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘No ship captain or shipping company wants to strike a whale’

Staff Report

Satellite data about whale movements and ocean conditions have helped scientists create monthly whale hotspot maps that could help avert collisions between ships and marine mammals.

Developed by researchers with NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University and the University of Maryland, the WhaleWhatch program alerts ships where there may be an increased risk of encountering these endangered whales.  NASA helped fund the project, which draws on ocean observations from NASA and NOAA satellites. Continue reading “Satellite mapping could help avert whale-ship crashes”

Life under the ice

Scientists eye winter ecosystems in ice-covered lakes

Pond glow.
Evening glow on a the slowly melting surface of Dillon Resevoir, in Summit County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A team of international scientists who studied more than 100 lakes during the winter said there’s more going on beneath the ice than we realized. Their findings stand to complicate the understanding of freshwater systems just as climate change is warming lakes around the planet, and shortening the ice season on many lakes. Other parts of the planet’s cryosphere are also melting under the thickening layer of heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution.

“As ice seasons are getting shorter around the world, we are losing ice without a deep understanding of what we are losing,” said Stephanie Hampton, a Washington State University professor and lead author of a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters. “Food for fish, the chemical processes that affect their oxygen and greenhouse gas emissions will shift as ice recedes.” Continue reading “Life under the ice”

Australian scientists say parts of Great Barrier Reef survived bleaching

Northern section hammered by warm ocean temperatures

This NASA photo shows southern portion of the reef adjacent to the central Queensland coast
This NASA photo shows a southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef adjacent to the central Queensland coast.

Staff Report

Australian researchers this week released results of their latest Great Barrier Reef surveys, concluding that huge swaths of coral died in the past year under the onslaught of an ocean heatwave that led to widespread coral bleaching.

In the hardest-hit area along a 700-kilometer section of the northern reef, an of 67 percent of shallow-water corals died in the last six to nine months. Farther south, over the vast central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists were relieved to find a much lower death toll. Continue reading “Australian scientists say parts of Great Barrier Reef survived bleaching”