(Government of Canada press release via Heritage Daily, 21 September 2012) -- The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today gave an update on this summer’s Arctic archaeological survey led by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service to find the ill-fated 1845-1846 Franklin Expedition vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. “The search for the lost Franklin vessels continues, but I can unequivocally say that this year’s survey was by far our most successful one to date,” said Minister Kent. “I would like to congratulate all our amazing partners who were part of this Canadian-led research team. They reached new heights with this project, and I look forward to seeing what new possibilities open up in time for next year’s continued search.” This year, the search team ruled out more than 400 square kilometres in Canada’s vast Arctic waters, almost tripling the coverage of past field seasons and further narrowing the search for the elusive wrecks of the Franklin Expedition. With almost four weeks spent in the Arctic, the team employed a multitude of scientific data that will also greatly benefit Canada’s understanding and knowledge of the Arctic. Working from both the research vessel, Martin Bergmann, supplied by the Arctic Research Foundation, and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the survey time was significantly extended compared to previous years. In addition to Parks Canada’s underwater archaeologists searching for the Franklin vessels, the broader project team included the Arctic Charting and Mapping Pilot Project, led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canadian Hydrographic Service. This project allowed for the collection of data for the production of official navigational charts in the Arctic, while supporting, marine archaeology and ecosystem management objectives.
Posted 22 September 2012; 11:01:10 AM. Permalink
(Planetsave, 21 September 2012) -- The complete collapse of Arctic sea ice during the summer months may happen within four years, according to one of the world’s leading sea ice researchers. In an email to the Guardian, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University says: "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward." Some of those geo-engineering ideas could have unintended effects worse than climate change itself, though — they remain a heavily-debated solution. The most prominent current ideas include: reflecting the sun’s light back into space with aerosols or mirrors; turning clouds a whiter color; and seeding the ocean with minerals in order to encourage massive plankton blooms that, theoretically, could sequester more CO2. Professor Wadhams has spent “many years collecting ice thickness data from submarines passing below the arctic ocean. He predicted the imminent break-up of sea ice in summer months in 2007, when the previous lowest extent of 4.17 million square kilometres was set. This year, it has unexpectedly plunged a further 500,000 sq km to less than 3.5m sq km.” “I have been predicting [the collapse of sea ice in summer months] for many years. The main cause is simply global warming: as the climate has warmed there has been less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer,” Dr Wadhams said. “At first this didn’t [get] noticed; the summer ice limits slowly shrank back, at a rate which suggested that the ice would last another 50 years or so. But in the end the summer melt overtook the winter growth such that the entire ice sheet melts or breaks up during the summer months. “This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates”.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:56:24 AM. Permalink
(Peter Fednysky/Voice of America, 21 September 2012) -- NEW YORK - The extent of Arctic sea ice this week shrunk to a new low in the era of satellite record-keeping that began in 1979. The increased expanse of water near the top of the world could have implications for global shipping, wildlife and even international diplomacy. Polar bears hunt seals from sea ice, but could drown if forced to swim long distances in open water. Satellite photos released by America’s space agency, NASA, illustrate the daunting threat to such bears. An image shows the amount of Arctic Sea ice in 1979. Another shows the record minimum set this year on September 16. The shrinkage is equivalent to an area greater than Texas, an impossible distance for even the mightiest polar bear to swim. Scientists say fossil fuels are increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. This not only warms the oceans, but threatens biodiversity in cold and warm waters alike. “As we increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a high proportion, about 40 percent of that, goes back into the ocean, and so it’s increasing the acid content of the ocean and that’s threatening coral reefs,” said Ben Orlove, a Columbia University climate research scientist.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:49:55 AM. Permalink
(Reuters, 21 September 2012) -- Weather data collected by NASA suggests that this summer's record Arctic ice melt may have been partially due to a powerful cyclone that scientists say ''wreaked havoc'' on ice cover during the month of August. Rob Muir reports.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:48:31 AM. Permalink
(Marine Science Today, 22 September 2012) -- A committee of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK is calling for a complete stop of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until certain safety issues have been taken care of. The Environmental Audit Committee has previously voiced their concerns that a spill could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The MPs say that current oil spill cleanup methods are not adequate. They are calling for a pan-Arctic spill response standard, full liability for firms and an environmental sanctuary in the Arctic. Both BP and Shell are involved in Arctic drilling projects. BP’s plans are temporarily on hold and they wouldn’t provide the MPs with evidence that they have an adequate plan for spill response. Shell has stopped drilling for the winter, but they claim that their spill response is adequate. “There appears to be a lack of strategic thinking and policy coherence within Government on this issue, illustrated by its failure to demonstrate how future oil and gas extraction from the Arctic can be reconciled to commitments to limit temperature rises to 2°C,” the MPs said. ”The Government should seek to resolve this matter.” You can read more from the BBC here: MPs call to halt Arctic drilling amid safety concerns.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:42:47 AM. Permalink
(Coastal Care, 21 September 2012) -- ... the village of Shishmaref in North Western Alaska, inhabited for 400 years, is currently facing evacuation due to rising temperatures, which are causing a reduction in sea ice, thawing of permafrost along the coast. The reduced sea ice allows higher storm surges to reach shore and thawing permafrost makes the shoreline more vulnerable to erosion. The town’s homes, water system and infrastructure are being undermined. A federal appeals court has ruled against the northwest Alaska village of Kivalina, which sued energy companies over claims that greenhouse emissions contributed to global warming that is threatening the community’s existence. The eroding village sought monetary damages to help with the estimated $400 million to relocate…
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:40:02 AM. Permalink