Titanic, Icebergs and a Warming Arctic
There’s a lot of media hype surrounding the 100th anniversary of the loss of the Titanic on April 15th 2012. It started so early, I was beginning to get tired of it – until I came across an article in the Vancouver Sun focussing on the fact that icebergs are still a danger in our high-tech age and that danger could increase rather than decrease as you might think at first, as the Arctic ice melts.
I was also fascinated to read that the iceberg that sank the Titanic probably came from the Semeq Kujalleq glacier (also known as Jakobshavn) near Ilulissat in Greenland. Ice blog fans may remember I visited the area in 2009 as part of the IPY media project on climate change at the poles. It is spectacularly beautiful, but the scientists – and indeed many locals – are concerned about the increasing speed with which the glacier is flowing down to the sea, where it breaks off into icebergs. Just recently there was a new report saying the Greenland ice sheet could start to melt irreversibly at a much lower global temperature rise than previously thought – maybe even at a 1.6°C.rise.
“The Titanic’s sinking in the Atlantic showed the need for an international patrol”, says the Vancouver Sun article. A hundred years later, the Arctic countries face an increase in shipping in the region and a likely increase in icebergs breaking off and floating around in the ocean. The US Coast Guard is currently holding a conference at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Law on “Leadership for the Arctic“. The Coast Guard is also planning its biggest ever Arctic deployment this summer. Easier access is posing a whole new safety challenge, not to mention increasing oil drilling in this sensitive region. (See also article in USA Today)
So if the Titanic disaster puts more focus on these issues – and the urgent need to reduce emissions and try to halt climate change before the face of the Arctic changes completely with massive implications for global sea level – bring on the 1912 costumes and ship replicas…
More on Greenland and the Arctic ice here:
DateApril 13, 2012 | 11:01 am