Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Scientists predict Arctic could be ice-free within decades

March 26, 2011

Physorg.com on March 25, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today – Original article here

Scientists predict arctic could be ice-Free within decades

Sea ice data through mid- March 2011. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Bad news for what is now the beginning of the “melt season” in the Arctic. Right now, the sea ice extent maximum appears to be tied for the lowest ever measured by satellites as the spring begins, according to scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. And because of the trend of how the amount of Arctic sea ice has been spiraling downward in the last decade, some scientists are predicting the Arctic Ocean may be ice free in the summers within the next several decades.

“I’m not surprised by the new data because we’ve seen a downward trend in winter sea ice extent for some time now,” said Walt Meier, a research scienitist with the NSIDC.

The seven lowest maximum Arctic sea ice extents measured by satellites all have occurred in the last seven years, and the from the latest data, the NSIDC research team believes the lowest annual maximum ice extent of 5,650,000 square miles occurred on March 7 of this year.

The maximum ice extent was 463,000 square miles below the 1979-2000 average, an area slightly larger than the states of Texas and California combined. The 2011 measurements were tied with those from 2006 as the lowest maximum sea ice extents measured since record keeping began in 1979.

Virtually all climate scientists believe shrinking Arctic sea ice is tied to warming temperatures in the region caused by an increase in human-produced greenhouse gases being pumped into Earth’s atmosphere.

Meier said the Arctic sea ice functions like an air conditioner for the global climate system by naturally cooling air and water masses, playing a key role in ocean circulation and reflecting solar radiation back into space. In the Arctic summer months, sunlight is absorbed by the growing amounts of open water, raising surface temperatures and causing more ice to melt.

“I think one of the reasons the Arctic sea ice maximum extent is declining is that the autumn ice growth is delayed by warmer temperatures and the ice extent is not able to ‘catch up’ through the winter,” said Meier. “In addition, the clock runs out on the annual ice growth season as temperatures start to rise along with the sun during the spring months.”

Since satellite record keeping began in 1979, the maximum ice extent has occurred as early as Feb. 18 and as late as March 31, with an average date of March 6. Since the researchers determine the maximum extent using a five-day running average, there is small chance the data could change.

As of March 22, ice extent declined for five straight days. But February and March tend to be quite variable, so there is still a chance that the ice extent could expand again. Ice near the edge is thin and is highly sensitive to weather, scientists say, moving or melting quickly in response to changing winds and temperatures, and it often oscillates near the maximum extent for several days or weeks, as it has done this year.

In early April the NSIDC will issue a formal announcement on the 2011 maximum with a full analysis of the winter ice growth season, including graphics comparing 2011 to the long-term record.

TNK-BP moves closer to Russian arctic

March 8, 2011

MOSCOW, March 7 (UPI) – original article here
Anglo-Russian energy venture TNK-BP could join Rosneft and Gazprom in developing the Russian arctic shelf if terms are good, the Russian prime minister said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said TNK-BP might be able to persuade its oil and natural gas colleagues to tap into more domestic natural resources if the terms are favorable to all parties involved.

“There is a law, under which we have entrusted Rosneft and Gazprom with work on the shelf,” Putin was quoted by Russia’s official RIA-Novosti news agency as saying. “If TNK-BP offers suitable terms of joint work to one of the companies it can (join the project). Why not?”

TNK-BP, a joint venture between a group of Russian billionaires and BP, is at odds with the British supermajor and Rosneft over an asset swap that included exploration deals in the Russian arctic.

BP in January agreed to pay Rosneft more than $8 billion in shares for a 9.5 percent stake in the Russian energy company in addition to a development agreement for the Kara Sea on Russian’s northern continental shelf.

Putin brushed off the historic rival between TNK-BP and its London counterpart by noting any rivalry is an internal matter for each company to address.

“These are their problems, they must solve them between themselves,” he said.

Mårhund shot in Kautokeino

March 8, 2011

NRK picture gallery here
Via NRK – original article (in sami) here
NRK finnmark has an article in norwegian now, here
March 8th 2011 – NRK Sami Radio reports that a Mårhund (Raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides) has been shot in Kautokeino last saturday. The raccoon dog was radiotagged and had come to Norway from Sweden. It is 3 years since the last time a raccoon dog has been reported shot in Finnmark.

The mårhund or raccoon dog is unwanted in Norway, since it carries pests and diseases and is omnivorous. Raccoon dogs would quickly decimate bird populations if allowed to live in Norway.
There is no hunting licence or law applying to raccoon dogs, and hunters are asked to shoot on site when they see a raccoon dog.

Jonas Qvale/Hornorkesteret

Wilder weather in Northern Norway from climate change

May 16, 2010

(Barents Observer, 11 May 2010)
Northern Norway should start preparing for a warmer, wilder and wetter climate, researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute say. A new report from the institute concludes that climate changes in the High North are proceeding quicker than previously anticipated and that they will be felt by “everybody in the region”. According to the report, which is part of the NorACIA project, temperatures at Svalbard will in the next 90 years increase 9 degrees, while the northern parts of the Norwegian mainland will see a 2–2,5 degree temperature increase. -Humans, animals and nature will feel the changes, and society planners should consider carefully where to build houses, Ellen Øseth, adviser at Polar Institute, told newspaper Aftenposten. -The only thing we are sure about is that the changes will be felt by everybody, she adds. The warmer water in the Arctic seas will attract new fish stocks to the region. While the cod over the next 100 years might have moved from Norwegian to Russian waters, the mackerel will increasingly like it in the region. Also industrial activities will seek towards the region as the ice contracts, the researchers say. The NorACIA report is based on findings from more than 100 Norwegian and international researchers. It is the last of five reports, which all are part of the Norwegian contribution in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). The Norwegian Polar Institute has had the secretariat for the international project, which has been going on since 2005.

Barents Observer
Original article here

Arctic oscillation – what is it?

January 19, 2010

The extreme or, rather, unusually low temperatures this winter in Europe ad North America is being explained by some as an effect of  “Arctic oscillation”. But what is this phenomenon?
Hang on as we turn to the  National Snow and Ice Data Center (US) for some answers:

The Arctic Oscillation
The Arctic Oscillation refers to opposing atmospheric pressure patterns in northern middle and high latitudes.

The oscillation exhibits a “negative phase” with relatively high pressure over the polar region and low pressure at midlatitudes (about 45 degrees North), and a “positive phase” in which the pattern is reversed. In the positive phase, higher pressure at midlatitudes drives ocean storms farther north, and changes in the circulation pattern bring wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia, as well as drier conditions to the western United States and the Mediterranean. In the positive phase, frigid winter air does not extend as far into the middle of North America as it would during the negative phase of the oscillation. This keeps much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains warmer than normal, but leaves Greenland and Newfoundland colder than usual. Weather patterns in the negative phase are in general “opposite” to those of the positive phase, as illustrated below.

Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phases. Starting in the 1970s, however, the oscillation has tended to stay in the positive phase, causing lower than normal arctic air pressure and higher than normal temperatures in much of the United States and northern Eurasia.

Arctic Oscillation

Effects of the Positive Phase      |     Effects of the Negative Phase
of the Arctic Oscillation                    of the Arctic Oscillation

(Figures courtesy of J. Wallace, University of Washington)