Tag: Arctic

How do Arctic sea ice changes affect whales?

Study tracks belugas in global warming era

 Adult beluga whales are migrating through fractured sea ice in the Alaskan Arctic.

Beluga whales migrating through fractured sea ice in the Alaskan Arctic. Photo by Vicki Beaver/NOAA.

Staff Report

The relationship between Arctic whales and sea ice is still largely a mystery, but there is increasing concern over how these species will adapt to climate related changes in sea ice. In a new study, researchers found the drastic sea ice changes under way in the Arctic could lead to more predation of beluga whales — and that could have “implications for population viability, ecosystem structure and the subsistence cultures that rely on them,” said Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crowe, a scientist with Florida Atlantic University. Continue reading “How do Arctic sea ice changes affect whales?”

Climate: Arctic sea ice melt slows slightly in July

Experts say record low now unlikely

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Summer sea ice off the east coast of Greenland. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Cool and stormy weather in the Arctic during July slowed the rate of sea ice loss to just below average for the month,  making it less likely sea ice extent will dwindle to a record low, according to the latest update from the National Ice and Snow Data Center. But it all depends on conditions the next few months.

For the month, sea ice extent averaged 2.14 million square miles, the third-lowest for July since satellite records started in 1979. It was only the second month of 2016 that didn’t end with a record-low extent, according to the NSIDC. The sea ice extent in July was 73,000 square miles above the previous record low 637,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average. Through 2016, the rate of decline for the month of July is 28,070 square miles per year, about 7.3 percent per decade. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice melt slows slightly in July”

Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive

New research suggests that capping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius would lower chances of big population decline by preserving critical sea ice

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Can these mighty Arctic predators survive the era of human-caused global warming?  Photo courtesy Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff Report

Now that the world has a clear target for limiting global warming, scientists say they show how how achieving the goal would protect at least some ecosystems and vulnerable species from impacts.

One newly updated study found that aggressively cutting greenhouse gas emissions would help ensure the survival of polar bears, listed as threatened because of Arctic sea ice declines. Polar bears depend on the ice as platforms for feeding around the biologically rich continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean. Continue reading “Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive”

Climate: Thawing Arctic lakes could boost greenhouse gases

Arctic lakes
Ice on Arctic lakes is thinning dramatically, leading to thawing permafrost beneath. @bberwyn photo.

New study measures permafrost changes with impacts to carbon cycle

Staff Report

Global warming is limiting the growth of seasonal ice on Arctic lakes, which could have implications for the global carbon cycle. new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, permafrost beneath shallow Arctic lakes is starting to thaw — another sign of the widespread Arctic meltdown due to climate change.

Another recent study found that Arctic lakes in Canada’s northern archipelago are drying at an unprecedented rate. The findings also support previous University of Waterloo research on Arctic lake ice.

The changes stem from warmer winter temperatures and increased snowfall during the past 30 years. Lakebed temperatures of Arctic lakes less than 1 meter (3 feet) deep have warmed by 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past three decades, and during five of the last seven years, the mean annual lakebed temperature has been above freezing, the study found. Continue reading “Climate: Thawing Arctic lakes could boost greenhouse gases”

13 consecutive months of record-high temps for Earth

No relief from global warming streak

January to May global temperatures 2016
Well above average temperatures prevailed across most of the planet during the first five months of 2016.
March-May 2016 global temperatures
Spring temperatures have been soaring across the globe.

Staff Report

The planet’s global warming streak continued in May, which marked the 13th month in a row that the average temperature over land and sea surfaces reached a new monthly record. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it’s the longest such streak since record-keeping started in 1880.

The seasonal (March-May) and year-to-date (January-May) global temperatures were also the highest on record, NOAA said in its monthly state of the climate report. Continue reading “13 consecutive months of record-high temps for Earth”

Arctic sea ice maxes out at record low extent

‘The Arctic is in crisis’

This NASA Blue Marble image shows Arctic sea ice extent on March 24, 2016, which averaged 14.52 million square kilometers (5.607 million square miles) on March 24, beating last year’s record low of 14.54 million square kilometers (5.612 million square miles) on February 25. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA Earth Observatory.
This NASA Blue Marble image shows Arctic sea ice extent on March 24, 2016.  Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

After a winter that saw average temperatures across most of the Arctic hover between 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average, sea ice in the region peaked at a record low extent for the second year in a row.

“I’ve never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic,” National Snow and Ice Data Center director Mark Serreze said in a press release that also explained how this year’s maximum sea ice extent came much later than average. See the full NSIDC report here.

“The Arctic is in crisis. Year by year, it’s slipping into a new state, and it’s hard to see how that won’t have an effect on weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere,” said Ted Scambos, NSIDC lead scientist. Continue reading “Arctic sea ice maxes out at record low extent”

Nobel Laureates urge ban on Arctic fossil fuel exploration

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The pristine Arctic environment is facing increased threats as the region warms. @bberwyn photo.

‘We urge you to … protect the Arctic Ocean from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction’

Staff Report

Any plans to drill or or explore for fossil fuel resources are morally unacceptable and scientifically unsupportable, a group of female Nobel Prize winners wrote this week in a letter to the Arctic Council.

The letter, signed by members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative (Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman), highlights the urgency of taking meaningful action on climate change and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. It also calls attention to the serious risks that drilling in such a remote and sensitive region poses to Indigenous communities, wildlife, and the environment. Continue reading “Nobel Laureates urge ban on Arctic fossil fuel exploration”