From icebergs that tower 150ft above the water and 800ft below, to icebergs the size of London suburbs, Camille’s photography is incredibly particular. “Every iceberg I have photographed no longer exists,” explained Camille, “they have melted away…
Scientists established that 2010 equaled 2005 as the warmest year on record, and the Arctic was warming faster than earlier models predicted. The melting of permafrost is releasing vast amounts of methane, which is 20 to 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
The Gulf Stream was detected to be advancing northward, possibly as a result of climate change. In August, a British team rowed to the magnetic North Pole. Previously, adventurers had to walk on ice to get there.
New analysis of 1.6 billion weather records concludes the world IS warming (but still can’t say what’s causing it)
Hotter than Jordan! Five weeks before Christmas Britain basks in balmy 16C temperatures while spring flowers bloom
November set to go down as the warmest ever recorded
Britain is warmer than famous hot-spots around the world
Forecasters admit there is ‘no imminent arrival of winter’
Last updated at 9:47 PM on 18th November 2011
Just like summer: A bee pollinates a flower. It is an image which you’d not normally expect to see in the middle of November
Spring-like: A mallard at London Wetland Centre has hatched a clutch of 11 ducklings, about six months later than usual
Amazing: Experts have been stunned to see rare migrant moths continuing to arrive in Britain at this time of year. Pictured is a Palpita Moth
.Rare phenomena: The fog bow was spotted by Sam Dobson during a recent expedition to the North Pole
Climate change melting polar regions faster than ever before
One of the clearest signs of climate change is the loss of floating sea ice in the Arctic
STEVE CONNOR WEDNESDAY 09 NOVEMBER 2011
The frozen “cryosphere” of the Earth, from the Arctic sea in the north to the massive ice shelves of Antarctica in the south, is showing the unequivocal signs of climate change as global warming accelerates the melting of the coldest regions of the planet, leading polar scientists warned yesterday.
A rapid loss of ice is clear from the records kept by military submarines, from land measurements taken over many decades and from satellite observations from space. It can be seen on the ice sheets of Greenland, the glaciers of mountain ranges from the Andes to the Himalayas, and the vast ice shelves that stretch out into the sea from the Antarctic continent, the experts said.
The effect of the melting cryosphere will be felt by rapidly rising sea levels that threaten to flood coastal cities and low-lying nations, changes to the circulation of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream, and possible alterations to the weather patterns that influence more southerly regions of the northern hemisphere, they said.
One of the greatest threats is the melting of the permafrost regions of the northern hemisphere which could release vast quantities of methane gas from frozen deposits stored underground for many thousands of years. Scientists are already seeing an increase in methane concentrations in the atmosphere that could be the result of melting permafrost, they said.
“The melting of the cryosphere is such a clear, visibly graphic signal of climate change. Almost every aspect is changing and, if you take the global average, it is all in one direction,” said Professor David Vaughan, a geologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.
One of the clearest signals of climate change is the rapid loss of floating sea ice in the Arctic, which has been monitored by satellites since the late 1970s and by nuclear submarines since the beginning of the cold war, said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, one of the first civilians to travel under the Arctic sea ice on a nuclear submarine.
The sea ice is retreating faster and further than at any time on record and this year it probably reached an all-time record minimum in terms of volume and a close second in terms of surface area. On current projections, if the current rate of loss continues, there could be virtually no September sea ice as early as 2015, Professor Wadhams said at a briefing held at the Science Media Centre in London.
“The changes are more drastic that we thought. The effect is more dramatic than if you just look at the surface area of the ocean covered by sea ice. Submarine records show a big area north of Greenland is reduced in sea ice thickness,” Professor Wadhams said.
The loss of sea ice and the warming of the Arctic region is having an impact on the permafrost regions of the north, both on land and in the shallow sea above the continental shelf of northern Russia, he said. Scientists have documented vast methane releases both on land and above the sea.
“Methane is 23 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. We can expect the possibility of a methane boost to global warming. We have to warn about the loss of sea ice, and the retreat is accelerating,” Professor Wadhams said.
One of the greatest threats in the coming century will be the possible rapid rise in sea levels as a result of melting mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets. Scientists believe that about two thirds of the current rate of average sea level rise, about 3 millimetres a year, is the result of melting ice, both from mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets.
“In a warmer world, one thing you can guarantee is that ice will melt. Sea levels are now rising at a third of the rate they were when we had truly massive ice sheets at the end of the last ice age,” said Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, and a former head of the British Antarctic Survey.
Some parts of the Antarctic, such as the Pine Island Glacier, are melting faster than at any time on record and the melting is outstripping the growth of glaciers in other regions of the Antarctic continent that are higher, colder and with more snowfall, said Professor Rapley said.
Greenland is also seeing an unprecedented melting of its glaciers. Since the 1990s, the Greenland ice sheet has lost mass at an ever-accelerating rate, a loss that could be responsible for about 30 per cent of the sea-level rise by the year 2100, said Professor Jonathan Bamber of Bristol University. At the same time, average temperatures around Greenland are forecast to rise by between 6C and 7C, which is about two or three times the global average, he said.
Warming Revives Dream of Sea Route in Russian Arctic
By ANDREW E. KRAMER Published: October 17, 2011
ARKHANGELSK, Russia — Rounding the northernmost tip of Russia in his oceangoing tugboat this summer, Capt. Vladimir V. Bozanov saw plenty of walruses, some pods of beluga whales and in the distance a few icebergs.
One thing Captain Bozanov did not encounter while towing an industrial barge 2,300 miles across the Arctic Ocean was solid ice blocking his path anywhere along the route. Ten years ago, he said, an ice-free passage, even at the peak of summer, was exceptionally rare.
But environmental scientists say there is now no doubt that global warming is shrinking the Arctic ice pack, opening new sea lanes and making the few previously navigable routes near shore accessible more months of the year. And whatever the grim environmental repercussions of greenhouse gas, companies in Russia and other countries around the Arctic Ocean are mining that dark cloud’s silver lining by finding new opportunities for commerce and trade.
Oil companies might be the most likely beneficiaries, as the receding polar ice cap opens more of the sea floor to exploration. The oil giant Exxon Mobil recently signed a sweeping deal to drill in the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean. But shipping, mining and fishing ventures are also looking farther north than ever before.
“It is paradoxical that new opportunities are opening for our nations at the same time we understand that the threat of carbon emissions have become imminent,” Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, said at a recent conference on Arctic Ocean shipping held in this Russian port city not far south of the Arctic Circle.
At the same forum, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia offered a full-throated endorsement of the new business prospects in the thawing north.
“The Arctic is the shortcut between the largest markets of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “It is an excellent opportunity to optimize costs.”
This summer, one of the warmest on record in the Arctic, a tanker set a speed record by crossing the Arctic Ocean in six and a half days, carrying a cargo of natural gas condensate. The previous record was eight days.
Scientists say that over the last 10 years the average size of the polar ice sheet in September, the time of year when it is smallest, has been only about two-thirds the average during the previous two decades. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a Norwegian group studying the Arctic, forecasts that within 30 or 40 years the entire Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer.
And so business plans are being drawn up to capitalize on changes in a part of the world that for much of seafaring history was better known for grim final entries in diaries of explorers like Hugh Willoughby of England. He died with his crew in 1553 trying to navigate this shortcut from Europe to Asia, known as the Northeast Passage.
The Russians, by traveling near the coast, have been sailing the Northeast Passage for a century. They opened it to international shipping in 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. But only recently have companies begun to find the route profitable, as the receding polar ice cap has opened paths farther offshore — allowing larger, modern ships with deeper drafts to make the trip, trimming days off the voyage and saving fuel.
In 2009, the first two international commercial cargo vessels traveled north of Russia between Europe and Asia. This year, 18 ships have made the now mostly ice-free crossing.
The voyages included a scenic cruise through the Northeast Passage, departing from Murmansk and arriving in Anadyr, a Russian port in the Pacific Ocean across the Bering Sea from Alaska. “The voyage offered attractions such as abandoned Russian polar stations,” the Australian operator, Aurora Expeditions, noted in its promotional literature.
On some routes, the trip over the top of Russia is now competitive with the passage from Europe to Asia via the Suez Canal. The voyage from Rotterdam to Yokohama, Japan, via the Northeast Passage, for example, is about 4,450 miles shorter than the currently preferred route through the Suez, according to Russia’s Transportation Ministry. (Of course, the Arctic route has a way to go before catching up to the 18,000 ships a year sailing through the Suez Canal.)
But the primary use of Arctic Ocean shipping has been to support other industries heading farther north, like mining and oil drilling, according to participants at the Russian conference.
Tschudi, a Norwegian shipping company, has bought and revived an idled iron ore mine in the north of Norway to ship ore to China through the Northeast Passage. The voyage to Lianyungang in China took 21 days in 2010, compared with the 37 days typically required to sail to China through the Suez. Tschudi executives estimate they save $300,000 a trip.
“Very few people in the shipping community know about this route,” Felix Tschudi, the chairman, said in an interview.
The Russian company Norilsk’s nickel and copper mine can now ship its metals across the Arctic Ocean without chartering ice breakers, as in the past, saving millions of rubles for shareholders. In northwest Alaska, theRed Dog lead and zinc mine moves its ore through the Bering Strait, which is less often clogged with packed ice than in past decades.
Arctic ice set to match all-time record low
Satellite measurements reveal that volumes have fallen consistently over past 30 years
STEVE CONNOR WEDNESDAY 07 SEPTEMBER 2011
The area of the Arctic that is covered by floating sea ice at the end of this summer’s period of melting is likely to match the all-time record low of 2007, scientists said yesterday.
Some researchers believe that the actual volume of sea ice in the Arctic has already fallen to a record minimum this summer. The extent of the Arctic covered by sea ice this summer has also continued to decline – a trend seen since 1979 when the first satellite measurements were collected.
Although satellites are good at measuring the surface area of ocean that is covered by the floating sea ice, it is not so easy to assess ice volume, which requires accurate measurements of ice thickness over wide regions.
Satellites have produced clear evidence that the sea-ice extent – the area covered by at least 15 per cent of ice – has fallen consistently and significantly each summer over the past 30 years. Since 1979, sea ice extent in summer has fallen by around 30 per cent, according to satellite data.
Walt Meier, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, said that at the moment the Arctic sea ice is on track to be second or third lowest in terms of sea-ice extent, although there is still about another week or so until the summer melt period finally comes to an end.
“A lot still depends on the weather. If a warm front comes through, there could still be some rapid melting. But at present we think it could be close to or as low as the 2007 record minimum,” Dr Meier said.
The sea ice in the Arctic goes through annual cycles of melting in summer and reforming each winter. However, as average temperatures in the the Arctic region have increased in recent decades – faster than in most other regions of the world – summer sea ice has disappeared faster than predicted, and winter ice has not reformed as readily as it once did.
In 2007, there was a “perfect storm” of driving winds that piled the sea ice up against the Greenland coastline and high pressure that removed cloud cover at the height of summer season to create idea conditions for the melting of the sea ice. This year the sea ice is more dispersed, but in terms of total surface area covered by ice, it probably ranks close or equal to 2007, Dr Meier said.
The last four summers have experienced the four lowest minima since satellite readings were first gathered and eight of the ten lowest summers have occurred in the past decade, he said. At the same time, there has been a marked decrease in thick “multi-year” sea ice that is older than five years, and an increase in the proportion of thinner, younger ice which is more likely to melt away completely in summer.
Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle estimated that the actual volume of sea in the Arctic is already at an all-time low, lower even than in 2007 because then the ice that was left was older, multi-year ice several metres thick. However, estimating ice volume is notoriously difficult.
Two minute video that ‘shows how the Earth’s temperature has risen 1C since the 1950s’
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