Tag: Arctic Ocean

Plastic pollution is increasing in the Arctic Ocean

Plastic debris is increasing in the Fram Strait, east of Greenland. @bberwyn photo.

Study documents rising amount of sea-bottom debris

Staff Report

There’s more direct evidence that plastic pollution is increasing rapidly in the remote Arctic Ocean, according to German scientists, who have tracking sea-bottom litter at two research stations since 2002. The Hausgarten deep-sea observatory network includes a total of 21 stations in the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard.

The Alfred Wegener Institute’s Mine Tekman,  lead author of a new study published in the scientific journal Deep-Sea Research I, said the long-term monitoring confirms that the amount of plastic litter has increased rapidly in the past 15 years.  Other scientists with the AWI have also documented evidence of a floating garbage patch starting to form in the Barents Sea region of the Arctic Ocean. Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks. Continue reading “Plastic pollution is increasing in the Arctic Ocean”

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Ocean acidification spreading in the Arctic

Study eyes warm water incursions from the Pacific

Sea ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait
Sea ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait in this satellite picture from the NASA Earth Observatory program. In recent years, the strait has become a conduit for warmer water flowing into the Arctic, resulting in spreading ocean acidification.

Staff Report

In the past 20 years, acidified waters have expanded in the Arctic ocean, spreading northward from Alaska’s Chukchi Sea coastline to just below the North Pole. The pool of acidified water is also getting deeper, from 100 to 250 meters, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In a press release, the researchers said it’s the first time they’ve documented such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, “at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans,” according to University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.

The changes will impact different types of ocean life, including tiny marine snails known to be susceptible to ocean acidification, said NOAA scientist Richard Feely. Other  Arctic species potentially at risk from ocean acidification are fisheries of shrimp and varieties of salmon and crab — all important food sources for indigenous communities. Continue reading “Ocean acidification spreading in the Arctic”

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 “Shell wants to hang on to Arctic Ocean drilling leases”

Climate: Small temperature changes have big impacts in Arctic Ocean ecosystems

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A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image captures a 2010 plankton bloom off the coast of Greenland.

Long-term study tracks shifting currents in Fram Straight

Staff Report

Intensive monitoring along the Fram Straight, between Greenland Svalbard, shows that even a short-term influx of warm water into the Arctic Ocean would be likely to have long-lasting effects on regional ecosystems.

Even small changes in surface water temperatures could quickly spread to affect life in the depths of the Arctic Ocean, a team of scientists concluded in a new study published in the journal Ecological Indicators. Continue reading “Climate: Small temperature changes have big impacts in Arctic Ocean ecosystems”

New Arctic Ocean garbage patch may be forming

The five major ocean gyres.
Is another garbage patch forming in the Arctic?

Science ship documents plastic debris near Greenland; northern Europe eyed as source

Staff Report

Scientists aboard a German research vessel say they’ve started documenting plastic debris on the surface of the Arctic Ocean, creating new problems for marine life in the environmentally sensitive region.

Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks. The plastic litter reported from the Fram Strait could be leaking from a new garbage patch forming in the Barents Sea, the researchers concluded in their study, published in the scientific journal Polar Biology. Continue reading “New Arctic Ocean garbage patch may be forming”

New Arctic oil exploration puts narwhals at risk

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Marine conservation advocates say new seismic airgun blasting in the Arctic Ocean threatens whales and other marine life. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Seismic blasting east of Greenland raises concerns about impacts to marine mammals

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Arctic Ocean north of Alaska isn’t the only area increasingly at risk from oil and gas exploitation. Oil companies are exploring the seabed off the eastern coast of Greenland, and the seismic blasting is likely harm whales and other marine life.

Oil companies use seismic equipment to map underground oil and gas reserves with airguns that emit 259 decibel blasts, a sound intensity would be perceived by humans as approximately eight times louder than a jet engine taking off. Continue reading “New Arctic oil exploration puts narwhals at risk”

Shell gets federal greenlight for exploratory Arctic drilling

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Shell gets OK for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Sea.

Conditional permits limit operations and set protections for marine mammals

Staff Report

FRISCO — Shell’s Arctic drill plans got a green light from federal regulators today, as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a pair of conditions permits for limited exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska.

The permits limit Shell to drilling in the top sections of wells. The company won’t be allowed to probe deep in into the oil-bearing zones until well-capping equipment is on hand and deployable within 24 hours — which still leaves enough time for thousands of gallons of crude to leak into the sensitive and pristine Arctic Ocean. Continue reading “Shell gets federal greenlight for exploratory Arctic drilling”