Search Results for Tag: Arctic
When the new Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia as his first official foreign destination last week, one of the agreements signed on the sidelines was a deal between the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Russia’s oil company Rosneft, which paves the way for more exploration in the Arctic. The BarentsObserver says the cooperation makes the Chinese concern Rosneft’s third foreign partner in the Barents Sea. The area in question is located to the west of the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya and to the northeast of Gazprom’s Shtokman field. The BarentsObserver says the most likely option is that CNCP will get a 33 percent stake in a joint venture and bear all costs for initial exploration and drilling. The area is one of the least explored areas on the Russian continental shelf. The hydrocarbon potential is believed to be considerable.
DateMarch 28, 2013 | 2:06 pm
Melting Arctic ice and Europe’s freezing March
It has been an extremely cold start to spring here in Germany and other parts of the European continent this year. Parts of Scotland have been snowed under and lost their electricity supplies. For once, I haven’t had people saying “so much for global warming” etc. Could it be that a majority of people are realising that climate change does not mean a straight, linear, rise in temperature everywhere?
Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Assessment (PIK) have drawn my attention to a report back in 2010 by Vladimir Petukhov from that organisation indicating that the shrinking Arctic ice (as a result of climate warming) can disturb air streams and change air pressure. This means a higher probability that Europe will get warmer winters more often. Of course there are always various factors involved, but other studies in the past three years have come to similar conclusions.
It may seem like a paradox, but yes, global warming could well be a major factor in bringing us these cool temperatures.
Let me just give you a link to a summary of “Global Warming could cool down temperatures in winter“.
- Spring picnic perhaps? Close to my office. It has melted now, but there is an ICY wind from the north-east.
DateMarch 26, 2013 | 3:44 pm
WWF has named the City of Vancouver in Canada as the first ever “Global Earth Hour Capital“. The city was awarded the distinction for its “innovative actions on climate change and dedication to create a sustainable, pleasant urban environment for current and future residents.” It is encouraging to see a Canadian city getting this climate award at a time when Canada is about to take over leadership of the Arctic Council and appears to be pushing hard for the economic development of the Arctic region. At the same time, the country’s glaciers are melting fast.
WWF writes:” Vancouver has been recognised by the jury for its ambition to be global leader on climate-smart urban development in spite of low national ambitions.” Those ambitions refer to the Canadian government’s lack of commitment to binding climate protection targets.
Well done to the City of Vancouver for making its own efforts to promote climate action and to reduce its carbon footprint. The activities include making new buildings carbon-neutral, encouraging people to make more than half their trips on foot, on their bicycles or by public transport. The city also wants to double the number of green jobs.
DateMarch 22, 2013 | 10:23 am
A greener Arctic in a warming climate
A new study of thirty years of satellite data shows considerable changes to the Arctic tundra. The difference between the seasons is diminishing, resulting in increasing plant growth and a less clear distinction between North and South. Vegetation is moving northwards as climatic conditions shift.
The study, conducted by an international team of 21 researchers from 17 institutions in 7 countries and funded by NASA is published in Nature Climate Change. Professor Bruce Forbes from the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, one of the authors, says indigenous reindeer nomads in northern Russia are already experiencing increases in the height of deciduous shrubs.
Although conditions differ in different parts of the region, overall the growing season is beginning earlier and the autumn freeze starting later.
Climate News Network quotes Professor Forbes as saying “we are seeing more frequent and longer-lasting high pressure systems. In winter, the snow cover comes later, is deeper on average than in the 1960s, but is melting out earlier in spring”. Forbes and his research team used dendrochronology, the science of tree-ring measurement to confirm the findings.
“In a few decades, if the current trends continue, much more of the existing low shrub tundra will start to resemble woodlands as the shrubs become tree-sized”, says Forbes.
The warming will change ecoystems considerably and also result in “feedback” effects. Melting permafrost means peat and vegetation will decompose, releasing methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Let me close with “food for thought” from Tim Radford, the author of the Climate News Network report on the study:
“Climate is a complicated business, and there is always legitimate room for argument about the validity of one selected set of measurements, a potential bias in the observations, or the reliability of comparison data collected two generations earlier. But vegetables can’t be fooled. Plants grow where they can. If deciduous shrubs are growing taller, and colonizing sites ever further north, then conditions must be getting warmer, and staying warmer.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
DateMarch 11, 2013 | 4:00 pm
No ban on bear trade
The debate over whether the trade in polar bear fur and other body parts should be banned has to have been one of the most confusing conservation and climate issues in the headlines over the last week. The meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok has rejected calls for a ban.
The trouble is that conservationists were divided on the issue. There is widespread agreement that the polar bear population is at risk from habitat loss because of the melting Arctic sea ice, on which it hunts and feeds. The question up for debate at the CITES meeting, though, was whether international trade also puts the bears at risk of extinction. The USA was proposing the ban, arguing that the polar bear population could decline by two-thirds by 2050.
“The continued harvest of polar bears to supply the commercial international trade is not sustainable”, said Dan Ashe, head of the US delegation. Canada, which has the largest portion of the polar bear population, was against the ban. Canada is also the only country that exports polar bear parts. The country says it needs to preserve the traditions of the Inuit. Clearly, protecting the heritage and traditions of the Inuit or other indigenous peoples is an important issue in our globalised age, where minorities struggle to hold on to their identities. But that argument can be used as an excuse for other activities. Is it justifiable to hunt an animal under threat to sell its fur at a huge profit on the international market? I cannot accept the argument some people put forward that a trade ban would detract attention from the real problem of climate change. Sure, climate change is the biggest threat. That means we have to cut emissions – but don’t we also have to do everything we can to reduce pressure on endangered species in the meantime? My colleague Damian Carrington from the Guardian does not mince words here. “Politics trumps precaution every time” is the heading of one of his blog posts from Bangkok.
The issue is not an easy one. The EU abstained from the vote because of opposition from Denmark, as bears are hunted by the Inuit population of Greenland, which still belongs to Denmark. Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium were in favour of the ban. Russia was with the USA in calling for a ban to protect its bears from poaching. WWF, normally upfront on bear protection, was opposed to the ban.
Whatever the arguments behind the rejection of the ban – it certainly won’t help the iconic species that has come to symbolise the threat to the Arctic. The only positive thing to come out of this is that world attention has been focussed on polar bears and on climate change in the Arctic – and indirectly on the political and economic interests that make some players less keen than others to do something about it.
DateMarch 7, 2013 | 1:34 pm