Tag Archive: Arctic


OZONE NEWS

Plugging an ozone hole


by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications – ultimately destroying ozone.

A success story of science and policy
After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

An aerial view of clouds over a mountain range in Greenland.

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

Full Screen

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

 

.

An Arctic ozone hole? Not quite

MIT researchers find that the extremes in Antarctic ozone holes have not been matched in the Arctic.

Audrey Resutek | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
April 14, 2014

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications — ultimately destroying ozone.

‘A success story of science and policy’

After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere. As a result, atmospheric concentrations have peaked and are now slowly declining, but it will be several decades before CFCs are totally eliminated from the environment — meaning there is still some risk of ozone depletion caused by CFCs.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

OZONE NEWS

NASA Pinpoints Causes of 2011 Arctic Ozone Hole


by Maria-Jose Vinas for NASA’s Earth Science News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Mar 13, 2013


Maps of ozone concentrations over the Arctic come from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. The left image shows March 19, 2010, and the right shows the same date in 2011. March 2010 had relatively high ozone, while March 2011 has low levels. Credit: NASA/Goddard.

A combination of extreme cold temperatures, man-made chemicals and a stagnant atmosphere were behind what became known as the Arctic ozone hole of 2011, a new NASA study finds. Even when both poles of the planet undergo ozone losses during the winter, the Arctic’s ozone depletion tends to be milder and shorter-lived than the Antarctic’s.

This is because the three key ingredients needed for ozone-destroying chemical reactions -chlorine from man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), frigid temperatures and sunlight- are not usually present in the Arctic at the same time: the northernmost latitudes are generally not cold enough when the sun reappears in the sky in early spring. Still, in 2011, ozone concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere were about 20 percent lower than its late winter average.

The new study shows that, while chlorine in the Arctic stratosphere was the ultimate culprit of the severe ozone loss of winter of 2011, unusually cold and persistent temperatures also spurred ozone destruction. Furthermore, uncommon atmospheric conditions blocked wind-driven transport of ozone from the tropics, halting the seasonal ozone resupply until April.

“You can safely say that 2011 was very atypical: In over 30 years of satellite records, we hadn’t seen any time where it was this cold for this long,” said Susan E. Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and main author of the new paper, which was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

“Arctic ozone levels were possibly the lowest ever recorded, but they were still significantly higher than the Antarctic’s,” Strahan said. “There was about half as much ozone loss as in the Antarctic and the ozone levels remained well above 220 Dobson units, which is the threshold for calling the ozone loss a ‘hole’ in the Antarctic – so the Arctic ozone loss of 2011 didn’t constitute an ozone hole.”

The majority of ozone depletion in the Arctic happens inside the so-called polar vortex: a region of fast-blowing circular winds that intensify in the fall and isolate the air mass within the vortex, keeping it very cold.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

NASAno Rains Ash, Rock on Java: Photos

NASA today released this image of the polar vortex, the weird atmospheric twitch that flooded into the United States last month. The purple wavy line above that wanders down from the Arctic shows the below-average temperatures that set cold records in many states.

From NASA’s Facebook page:

“The Big Chill – Blistering cold air from the Arctic plunged southward this winter, breaking U.S. temperature records. A persistent pattern of winds spins high above the Arctic in winter. The winds, known as the polar vortex, typically blow in a fairly tight circular formation. But in late December 2013 and early January 2014, the winds loosened and frigid Arctic air spilled farther south than usual, deep into the continental United States. On Jan. 6, 2014, alone, approximately 50 daily record low temperatures were set, from Colorado to Alabama to New York, according to the National Weather Service. In some places temperatures were 40 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average.”

 

Read More Here

 

….. MLive

Wind chill advisory: Check out how cold it will feel in Grand Rapids

By Andrew Krietz | akrietz@mlive.com

on February 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM, updated February 27, 2014 at 4:23 PM

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Don’t let the Thursday afternoon sun fool you.

A wind chill advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. Friday following the National Weather Service canceling a winter weather advisory. With snow showers mostly out of the picture, there’s now a greater focus on how cold it’ll feel when the sun comes up.

“Feels like” temperatures will be at their lowest after 4 a.m. Friday, with some readings approaching minus 25 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

Forecasters say there likely will be a bit of a lull in wind speeds late tonight through the early morning hours, but an approaching weather system is positioned to kick them back up again to about 5 to 15 mph. It won’t take much for the wind, coupled with an overnight low of minus 7 degrees, to knock down those readings quickly.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

 

Arctic air makes a comeback, sort of

Freeze will cover two-thirds of country, weather service says

UPDATED 8:35 AM PST Feb 25, 2014
Cold New Yorkers, cold weather

Chad Weisser/iReport

(CNN) —Don’t pack away those winter coats and hats yet!

We’re in for another blast of cold Arctic air, which is gearing up to roll across most of the country this week, but it won’t be as bad as the shocking freeze in January.

The National Weather Service says some places from the central U.S. to the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys could be having some frosty high temperatures, as low 20 to 30 degrees below normal.

If you call it Polar Vortex Part II (or III or IV), meteorologists say you’d be wrong — nor was the first big cold spell of 2014, strictly speaking, a strike of the Polar Vortex.

The Polar Vortex stays anchored over Baffin Bay, to the north of Canada, and doesn’t move, says CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. But its shifting pattern allows cold Arctic air to spill southward into the United States.

“When it weakens, this allows the cold Arctic air that is often mislabeled the “Polar Vortex” to spill southward across the U.S. border and bring us bone-chilling temperatures,” Morris explained.

So from a technical perspective, “if you’re looking to get ‘struck’ by the vortex, you’re out of luck,” he added.

Although this cold snap doesn’t have as menacing a name, the Arctic air blast will cause temperatures to plummet 25 to 35 degrees below average east of the Rocky Mountains, Morris said.

Temperatures will drop Tuesday to 10 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of year in places such as Minnesota and the Dakotas. Then the arctic blast will roll east.

Read More Here

…..

Brutal Winter Continues as Temps Plummet Again

File Photo
Photo: AP/Nati Harnik

Updated: 02/27/2014 4:50 PM

Created: 02/27/2014 6:10 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson

Now that the high winds of Wednesday are settling down, our temperatures have taken yet another dive.

After a brief warm up, the never-ending winter of 2013-14 has re-established its run at record territory, Morning Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow says.

 

Read More Here

 

File: The climate-controlled skyway system in Minneapolis provides warmth for people moving from building to building as another polar blast brought sub-zero temperatures with wind chills in the minus-40’s, Monday, Jan. 27.
Photo: AP/Jim Mone, File

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Brazilian beans and Japanese barley shipped to Svalbard seed vault

Some 20,000 plant species from more than 100 countries and institutions will be added to the global seed bank in Norway
The entrance of Svalbard Global Seed Vault a repository for seeds, Norway

The Svalbard global seed vault is primarily designed as a back-up for the many gene banks around the world that keep samples of crop diversity for agricultural businesses. Photograph: Alamy

A Noah’s Ark of 20,000 plant species will unload this week at a remote Arctic port to deposit humanity’s latest insurance payment against an agricultural apocalypse or a man-made cock-up.

Brazilian beans and Japanese barley are among the botanical varieties that are carried aboard the ship that is shortly expected to dock near the Svalbard global seed vault, that celebrates its sixth anniversary this week.

The facility, which is bored into the side of a mountain by the Barents Sea, is primarily designed as a back-up for the many gene banks around the world that keep samples of crop diversity for agricultural businesses.

But its operators, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, say the “Doomsday Vault” could also help to reboot the world’s farms in the event of a climate catastrophe or a collapse of genetically modified crops.

Built to withstand a nuclear strike, a tectonic shift or rising sea levels, the vault has the capacity to store 4.5m different seed varieties for centuries.

Currently, it holds 820,619 samples of food crops and their natural relatives, but this is steadily increasing with one or two shipments each year, according to the trust, which maintains the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Centre.

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta
LiveScience

Woolly Mammoths and Rhinos Ate Flowers

arctic
The Arctic had much more diverse flora than previously thought during the Pleistocene Era
Credit: Mauricio Anton

Woolly mammoths, rhinos and other ice age beasts may have munched on high-protein wildflowers called forbs, new research suggests.

And far from living in a monotonous grassland, the mega-beasts inhabited a colorful Arctic landscape filled with flowering plants and diverse vegetation, the study researchers found.

The new research “paints a different picture of the Arctic,” thousands of years ago, said study co-author Joseph Craine, an ecosystem ecologist at Kansas State University. “It makes us rethink how the vegetation looked and how those animals thrived on the landscape.”

The ancient ecosystem was detailed today (Feb. 5) in the journal Nature.

Pretty landscape

In the past, scientists imagined that the now-vast Arctic tundra was once a brown grassland steppe that teemed with wooly mammoths, rhinos and bison. But recreations of the ancient Arctic vegetation relied on fossilized pollen found in permafrost, or frozen soil. Because grasses and sedges tend to produce more pollen than other plants, those analyses produced a biased picture of the landscape. [Image Gallery: Ancient Beasts Roam an Arctic Landscape]

To understand the ancient landscape better, researchers analyzed the plant genetic material found in 242 samples of permafrost from across Siberia, Northern Europe and Alaska that dated as far back as 50,000 years ago.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bad Apple

…..

 

 

Jan 8, 2014 by NATASHA LONGO

 
Since the genetic code of the apple was mapped by researchers a few years ago, scientists have explored gene silencing and other manipulation techniques to alter one of nature’s most healing superfoods. Genetically modified apples may soon enter the food supply under the guise of preventing browning. First, though, officials must confront some enduring public distaste for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) now widely perceived as one of the most extensive global threats to human health.

 

There are natural ways to keep an apple from browning such as applying lemon, lime and even pineapple juice as they have the citric acid necessary to prevent oxidation. Sea salting is another option as it effectively acts as a preservative.

But according to the Washington Agriculture Dept., GMO apples could replace all of these methods straight from the vineyard since gene sequences could be manipulated with the same end result.

An Economic Disaster And Abuse Towards Nature

“This is an economic disaster,” Henry House, an organic apple grower in Davis, Calif., recently warned.

More than 60 million tons of apples are grown worldwide each year – the equivalent of 20lb per person.

Organic growers such as House fear that honeybees will spread genetically engineered apple pollen and contaminate organic orchards. Some consumer advocates maintain a more general antipathy toward engineered foods, while industry groups that include the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, Wash., also object to what would be the first genetically engineered apple in commercial production.

As of yet, no genetically modified apples have been approved anywhere in the world. It is expected, however, that the amount of GM apple field tests will keep increasing.

Washington state accounts for 44 percent of the nation’s apple-bearing land, with 146,000 acres.

The U.S. Apple Association, noting that “browning is a natural process related to the exposure to oxygen,” has voiced opposition to the Arctic apple.

Thousands of others have weighed in as the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service considers whether to grant “non-regulated status” to varieties called the Arctic Golden and the Arctic Granny. Approval would give the commercial green light to British Columbia’s Okanagan Specialty Fruits.

Processing of GMO Apples Well Underway

The information from gene regulations of the Golden Delicious variety of apples is already being used to breed red-fleshed apples which are supposedly more attractive to consumers. After all, we wouldn’t want consumers to think there are a few bad apples of any variety would we?

Ever imagine eating an apple with a desire to curb your appetite for the rest of the day? Well it’s becoming a reality as genetically modified apples that suppress appetite could also be in the pipeline, with the first varieties with enhanced appetite suppressing compounds on shelves within five years.

Farmers need not worry about slow growth of apple trees. Now breeders will be able to screen seedlings for key genes, vastly speeding up the process while destroying the Mother Nature’s diversity that perfectly tunes apple cultivation.

Researcher Roger Hellens of New Zealand firm Plant & Food Research, said: ‘Now we have the sequence of the apple genome, we will be able to identify the genes which control the characteristics that our sensory scientists have identified as most desired by consumers.

Amit Dhingra, of Washington State University in the US, said: ‘Before genome sequencing, the best we could do was correlate traits with genes.

‘Now we can point to a specific gene and say, “This is the one; this gene is responsible for this trait”. ‘Or the trait might be for something desirable, like flavour in a piece of fruit.’

Hellens said: ‘Understanding how important characteristics in plants are controlled is vital in reducing the time to breed successful commercial cultivars (varieties).

Company President of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Neal Carter stated that he “expects full deregulation” of the apples this year.

The Arctic apple’s resistance to what scientists call “enzymatic browning,” which is what happens when a typical apple is cut or bruised, comes from the insertion of a certain genetic sequence taken from an apple. The inserted sequence essentially suppresses the browning process.

With federal approval, the company no longer would need special permits before it put the genetically modified apples into production. If they get the go-ahead, company officials have indicated, the Arctic apples could reach grocery stores sometime in 2015.

Public Outcry Will Be A Challenge To Acceptance

First, though, the Agriculture Department must process all the public reactions received in a comment period that’s been extended until Jan. 30. The initial comment period, in 2012, drew more than 72,000 statements, including many form letters from opponents. The latest period has drawn more than 6,100 comments, many of them passionately worded from opponents of genetically modified organisms.

“Growing these GMO apples is insane,” Loxahatchee, Fla., resident Ellie Jensen wrote last month.

While the public comments have often been skeptical, federal officials have sounded sympathetic. In an 83-page draft environmental assessment completed last year, Agriculture Department scientists recommended approving the product they think can help the apple industry.

“Browning reduces apple quality by causing detrimental flavor and nutritional changes that limit apple’s fresh-market, fresh-cut and processing applications,” the Agriculture Department officials noted.

Officials loudly claim that organic growers “will not be substantially affected” by the “limited acreage” planted with the genetically engineered crops, but then added that organic growers “may need to discuss their needs” with neighbors who opt for the Arctic apples.

If extra genes allowed the apple to adapt for millions of years, do humans really have the right to silence specific genes to enhance the appearance of Mother Nature’s abundance or even the consumer’s palate?

When genetic engineers insert a new gene into any organism there are “position effects” which can lead to unpredictable changes in the pattern of gene expression and genetic function. The protein product of the inserted gene may carry out unexpected reactions and produce potentially toxic products.

The Agriculture Department, moreover, is effectively limited to considering whether a new product poses a potential plant risk, and questions such as potential market impact or consumer reaction aren’t really part of the equation.

“In general, this administration and past administrations have been very favorable toward biotechnology,” acknowledged Schlect, of the horticultural council.

GMOs Will Never Be The Answer To A Sustainable Food Supply

There are also projects developing insect resistant, transgenic apples. In the US, transgenic apples with delayed softening are being developed with longer shelf life, so that fruit can ripen on the tree. There is no end to the methods of madness that GMO scientists are pursuing to alter Mother Nature.

Genetically modified foods are NOT the answer. Crop uniformity and gene altering such as the research being employed by Plant & Food Research will only reduce genetic diversity making these fruits more vulnerable to disease and pests. The unnatural gene transfers will only create new toxins and weaknesses making us all vulnerable to long-term and potentially persistent illnesses.

We should all be making efforts to take these independent studies very seriously and demand that government agencies reproduce those studies instead of depending on those paid by biotech companies.

Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.


Reference Sources 122, 231

Enhanced by Zemanta

Plunge in temperatures could cost US economy $5bn in lost revenue and shave the equivalent of 0.2pc off first quarter GDP

Polar vortex

Arctic freeze is locking down businesses and the economy across America Photo: KEN STEVENS/AP

The American big freeze has put an icy chill on business, as flights are cancelled and people cocoon themselves at home instead of going to the shops or to work.

The cold snap, which broke records as temperatures plunged below zero in all 50 states on Tuesday, could cost around $5bn, and shave the equivalent of 0.2pc a year off US GDP in the first quarter.

Evan Gold, senior vice president of Planalytics, a company which tracks weather for businesses, said that the cold snap would be short-lived, but that the cost would reach $5bn because of the sheer number of people affected.

“A similar situation in 2010 lasted a week, with back-to-back storms with snow and ice. We calculated that cost $25 billion to $30 billion. But that one lingered. This one is just very cold, so it should be a two- or three-day event,” he said.

Some 187m people in the Eastern two-thirds of the country faced extremely low temperatures on Tuesday, in what became dubbed the “polar vortex”. New York saw the mercury drop more than it has done in over a century, but the lowest temperature was reported at Embarrass, Minnesota, where the thermometer fell to -35F (-37C). Once the wind chill factor was taken into account, the temperature was as low as -45F (-43C).

Read More Here

…..

Cold Enough to FREEZE an Egg

The Weather Channel The Weather Channel

Published on Jan 2, 2014

In Minnesota, temperatures dip below freezing… WAY below. Matt Sampson shows us one experiment that underlines how dangerous these temps can be.

…..

ice cold
More ice: street signs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are covered with frozen water after firefighters fought nearby flames at Happy’s Pizza. Photograph: Courtney Sacco/AP
cold weather
The steam approach: arctic sea smoke rises off Lake Michigan in Chicago on Monday. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
View Additional Photos Here

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Canada to include the North Pole in its claim for Arctic territory, resources

Published time: December 10, 2013 00:27
AFP Photo / Affanassy Makovnev

AFP Photo / Affanassy Makovnev

Canadian officials confirmed Monday that the nation is preparing to include the North Pole as part of its Arctic Ocean seabed claim in the multi-country push to prove jurisdiction over further territory in the resource-rich area.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq officially announced Monday Canada’s claim to the extended continental shelf in the Arctic. It was reported by The Globe and Mail last week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested a government board charged with assessing Canada’s claims beyond its territorial waterways, per United Nations rules, to seek a more expansive stake of Arctic area to include the North Pole.

“We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada’s claim to the North Pole,” Baird said during a press conference at the House of Commons.

Pursuant to its status as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Canada submitted Friday only a partial application to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf showing scientific evidence that it should be able to assert its privileges over territory and resources – namely oil and gas rights – within waterways well beyond its borders. Under the Convention, a nation can claim up to 200 nautical miles of seabed beyond its territorial markers. A country can demand 350 nautical miles if it can prove a natural extension of its land area. The UN requires comprehensive mapping evidence to justify any declaration of rights.

The preliminary application outlines complete scientific evidence regarding Canada’s Atlantic Ocean requests and a portion of its Arctic claim all while reserving the nation’s right to make further submissions at a later date.

Canada’s application was due based on UN requirements that a country that has ratified the Convention make its claim within ten years. Canada ratified the UN Convention in 2003.

The North Pole is 817 kilometers north of Canada’s – and the world’s – northernmost settlement, Alert, Nunavut. The town is home to a Canadian Forces station and Environment Canada station.

“Fundamentally, we are drawing the last lines of Canada. We are defending our sovereignty,” Aglukkaq said, according to CBC News.

Resources bring competition

Canada has spent nearly US$200 million on the scientific-discovery process of the area, including dozens of icebreaker and helicopter trips for teams of scientists. An unmanned submarine was used to collect data below the frigid Arctic water. The United States, which is also expected to claim further seabed territory, aided Canada in the research phase, though the US has not ratified the UN Convention yet.

“If the US doesn’t ratify, then we don’t know what happens if there’s a dispute,” Rob Huebert, associate director of the Center for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, told The Verge. “What do you do about a contested area with the US if there isn’t an agreement that governs how that dispute is resolved?”

 

AFP Photo / Darren Hauck

AFP Photo / Darren Hauck

The US isn’t the only country Canada may clash with its territorial and resource claims. About 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie in the largely untapped 18-million-square-mile Arctic region, according to the US Geological Survey, making up about 10 percent of the world’s petroleum resources. The dominant portion of these resources are hidden beneath the ice that is shared between five nations bordering the Arctic: Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the US.

“It’s a dangerous and difficult region to drill, but the idea of profits seem to exceed those risks for governments,” Huebert said of the volatile Arctic. “We’re not seeing anyone pull away.”

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Canada to claim north pole as its own

UN submission will seek to redefine Canada’s continental shelf to capture more Arctic oil and gas resources
  • theguardian.com, Monday 9 December 2013 21.50 ES
A Canadian ranger making a patrol on Ellesmere Island, part of the country's existing Arctic land.

A Canadian ranger making a patrol on Ellesmere Island, part of the country’s existing Arctic territories. Photograph: Jess Mcintosh/AP

Canada plans to make a claim to the north pole in an effort to assert its sovereignty in the resource-rich Arctic, the country’s foreign affairs minister has said.

John Baird said the government had asked scientists to work on a future submission to the United Nations arguing that the outer limits of the country’s continental shelf include the pole, which so far has been claimed by no one.

Canada last week applied to extend its seabed claims in the Atlantic Ocean, including some preliminary Arctic claims, but wants more time to prepare a claim that would include the pole.

Asserting Canada’s rights in the Arctic has been a popular domestic issue for the prime minister, Stephen Harper, though at least one expert on the issue has described the planned claim as a long shot.

Baird said: “We are determined to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the tremendous resources that are to be found in Canada’s far north.”

Countries including the US and Russia are increasingly looking to the Arctic as a source of natural resources and shipping lanes. The US Geological Survey says the region contains 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15% of oil. If Canada’s claim is accepted by the UN commission it would dramatically grow its share.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
LiveScience

2013’s Summer Arctic Sea Ice a Top 10 Low

 
Arctic sea ice
A satellite image of Arctic sea ice snapped on Sept. 12, 2013.
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

It’s official: The Arctic icepack reached its summer low on Sept. 13, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., said today (Sept. 20).

The Arctic ice cover melted down to 1.97 million square miles (5.10 million square kilometers) — about the size of Texas and California combined.

The final tally puts 2013 in sixth place out of the top 10 record low ice years since tracking began with satellites 30 years ago. It also continues an overall downward trend in the extent of summer sea ice, the NSIDC said. (2012 is the top record holder, with the lowest summer ice extent ever recorded.)

The rebound in ice cover after a record low year was expected, Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. “There is always a tendency to have an uptick after an extreme low; in our satellite data, the Arctic sea ice has never set record low minimums in consecutive years. [Video: Watch the 2013 summer ice melt]

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

File:Iceberg with hole crop.jpg

Image Source  :  Wikimedia Commons

Author Brocken Inaglory

*******************************************************************************

Live Science

Seaweed could smother polar underwater ecosystems as melting sea ice exposes the seafloor to more sunlight, new research shows.

Animals that dwell on the seafloor of the Arctic and Antarctic spend most of their lives in total darkness: Sea ice blocks rays during the spring and early summer, and the sun sets completely in the winter. Late summer and early fall — when the ocean warms up enough to thaw the ice — often marks the only time these critters see light.

But as climate change causes sea ice to begin melting earlier and earlier in the summer, shallow-water ecosystems will soak up increasingly more rays. New research from a team of Australian biologists suggests this could cause a major shift in the seafloor communities along the coast of Antarctica, where invertebrates like sponges, worms and tunicates — globular organisms that anchor to rocks on the seafloor — currently dominate. A manuscript of the report is currently in press at the journal Global Change Biology. [6 Unexpected Effects of Climate Change]

“Some areas where ice breaks out early in summer are already shifting to algal domination,” said Graeme Clark, a biologist at the University of New South Wales who was involved in the study.

Seasons and tipping points

Early-summer ice melt not only lengthens the amount of time photosynthesizing organisms like macroalgae (or seaweed) can thrive under the sun during the summer, but it also increases the intensity of that exposure. The sun sits highest in the sky during the summer solstice — the period when Earth tilts most directly toward the sun — that occurs between June 20 and 23 in the Northern Hemisphere and Dec. 20 and 23 in the Southern Hemisphere, depending on the phase of the Earth’s orbit. Rays travel directly to the seafloor during this time. During spring and fall, however, low-angle rays reflect off the sea surface and often never make it to the seafloor.

This compounding effect of a longer sunlit season and higher-intensity rays could exponentially increase the amount of sunlight hitting benthic, or seafloor, communities in the coming decades and cause major tipping points for those invertebrate-dominated ecosystems, Clark said.

Tipping points occur when relatively minor environmental changes — like sea ice melting several days earlier than usual — cause rapid and significant ecological transformation. In this case, the tipping point would push ecosystems from invertebrate-dominated to algae-dominated.

Read More and Watch Video  Here

Enhanced by Zemanta