Search Results for Tag: ice
Pre-Cancun ice blog from the banks of the Rhine
This is the icy view from my office at Deutsche Welle on the banks of the Rhine this afternoon. It’s the ice blogger’s favourite weather, although most people around me are complaining it’s too early for snow and asking if it’s got anything to do with climate change.
Meanwhile, in spite of the fact that so many of us have been saying there will be less hype surrounding and attention paid to the Cancun climate talks starting in Mexico on Monday, I’m pleased to say there is still a fair bit of reporting going on. What we saw ahead of Copenhagen was really hype, verging on a kind of Copenhagen-mania at times, and it clearly didn’t help the cause of getting a new global climate agreement at all. But it would be worrying if the media and the public in general just ignored the talks.
Mind you, most people seem to be saying more or less the same thing: Forget the idea of a big breakthrough and just go for a step-by-step pragmatic approach. As one commentator on German radio put it this morning, people (especially those who will be negotiating) seem to be talking Cancun down. That doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s important, but it’s a clear warning that this time, we shouldn’t expect too much. We can still set our sights high, though, can’t we?
As EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard puts it (and she should know, since as Danish climate and energy minister she was a key figure in the Copenhagen conference) “the sense of urgency should not be any less than prior to Copenhagen.”. After all, she told me, given that we’ve seen the hottest 12 months in a row on record, “the chance remains with us. We have to address it. And for each year we postpone action, the more expensive and the more difficult its going to be in the end”. I couldn’t agree with you more, Commissioner. Let\’s hope you and the others round the negotiating table(s) in Cancun will turn that into money on the table for adaptation and forest protection, and ambitious emissions reductions targets.
More on the EU’s stance to let you decide whether it’s good enough on this week’s Living Planet programme. You might also like to read this Interview with EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, in which she outlines her expectations for the climate conference in Mexico.
DateNovember 26, 2010 | 2:47 pm
The “bear” facts – on Longyearbjen
I left Ny Alesund having seen most of the mesocosms deployed and everything running well.
The local Arctic fox – who apparently lives under the 1912 houses which have become the Dutch Arctic station – appeared to see me off.
I found Longyearbjen in a state of great excitement because a polar bear had drifted in on the sea ice a few days ago. I was hoping he’d come back, but so far he hasn’t. It was a big attraction, because although they are said to be all around, understandably they don’t come into town that often. The authorities were happy as long as he snoozed on his iceberg, but when he started to move around, they zapped him with a tranquillizer dart and moved him off to a “safer” location.That left the ice floes clear for the Eiders.
Longyearbjen is called after American John M. Longyear, who established the first mine here in 1906. The mining history of the settlement is in evidence everywhere, old coal shafts and the pylons which carried the rope line used to transport the coal to the port.
Coal is still mined here today. It’s controversial, Greenpeace staged a protest here last year, which has made them quite unpopular with the locals, worried about their jobs. That’s presumably one reason why up in Ny Alesund, somebody threw a seal’s head onto the deck of the Esperanza. The local newsletter ‘icepeople’, self-styled as “the world’s northernmost alternative newspaper” reported on the return of the environmentalists saying “This time Greenpeace is promising – it seems – to be good”, i.e. because they are supporting scientific research rather than protesting. The newsletter people are clearly still wary, though.
There is a test project running here for carbon capture and storage. I went to the site of the borehole with the director, Gunnar Sand.
They are testing whether the underground storage site would be safe to store 90% of emissions from the local coal-fired power plant. He says they could be up and running by 2015. But he also stresses the need for much more intensive testing, as safety is paramount. He says Longyearbjen is ideal for a pilot plant, as they have a small community with a closed system. He thinks the world will be dependent on coal for the next fifty years at least, given especially the developments in China. More later on DW radio and the website.
There’s supposed to be a population of 2000 here. I don’t know where they all are, it makes a rather empty impression most of the time. Most people I’ve met have been incomers, who tend to come for a short time, fall in love with it and stay as long as they can. Margrete Nilsdater Skaktavl Keyser is one.
Margrete came here for a short course and went on to do a full degree here. The student residences at the far end of the town show the two main attractions that seem to bring students to the uni here : snow mobiles in winter and nature all around, all year round, with plenty of potential for field work on all aspects of Arctic sciences:
Margrete came here as a student for a short course and stayed on for a longer degree, writing on polar bears. You need a job to stay here, so she takes whatever she finds and goes home to the Norwegian mainland in between.In the season, she guides people on snowmobile trips. At the moment she’s working with the Svalbard authorities compiling a data base on encounters between humans and polar bears, trying to work out guidelines for avoiding “incidents”. I’ve been keeping that in mind walking around here. You can’t leave the town area safely without a rifle, flares etc. People have been killed around here, although it’s a good few years ago.
Glaciology Professor Doug Benn, a fellow Scot who taught in my old university St. Andrews, invited me to join him and two junior colleagues for a look at the local glaciers yesterday. He’s also an active researcher into a glacial area of the Himalayas. More on that next time.
As you can see, no hikes outside town without the rifle. Doug is the one in charge of the party’s safety here:
DateJune 3, 2010 | 8:56 am
Ice Blogger’s Paradise
Pictures often say more than words.
I have now arrived in Longyearbjen and the wind has filled the fjord with ice again. The sun has come out, the sky is blue. Let me leave you for today with these impressions. More talk tomorrow.
DateJune 2, 2010 | 9:12 pm
Polar publicity stunt?
I took this photo during a visit to the Arctic research station in Ny Alesund, Svalbard, during a visit in 2007.
Picture Gallery on Polar Research on Svalbard
I had a kind of deja vu feeling when I saw the place on a tv programme the other night about polar explorers, still very much in action today. This was the mast where Roald Amundsen’s airship was tethered before he set out to make the first flight over the North Pole in 1926. The latest of his successors in the line of polar explorers also set off from Svalbard (a different spot)to cross the North Pole in a balloon last week and made it at the weekend. The French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne had to land in eastern Siberia instead of Alaska as planned, because a snowstorm near the North Pole made it impossible for him to recharge
the balloon’s batteries, run from solar panels.
It’s quite an achievement to cross the Arctic, five days on your own in a balloon. The technology available these days has advanced somewhat from Amundsen’s days. Still, the Arctic conditions are pretty extreme and can still thwart the “best laid plans of mice and men” (Robert Burns). But Monsieur Etienne wasn’t just in it for the thrills. He was also measuring CO2 levels for some French scientific institutions. I wonder what he found out.
DateApril 12, 2010 | 8:41 am
The “Art”of keeping climate in the headlines
There is a danger of climate change sliding into the background. Recently I talked to Professor Mojib Latif, one of Germany’s leading experts on climate change. He said he thought people have a natural tendency to try to find ways of avoiding doing unpleasant things – like changing your lifestyle to reduce emissions. He’s still optimistic overall, though.
Today I received some info about an art project to draw attention to climate change by having sculptures created on icebergs and letting everybody follow the iceberg’s progress online. Interesting? Or just a gimmick? Judge for yourself here. I’ll be interested to hear peoples reactions:
The Cool Emotion Iceberg Sculpture project
The IPCC has appointed a “watchdog”, it seems, to try to avoid any more damaging errors making their way into the reports. The Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council, or IAC, will be bringing out a report on its review of the IPCC procedure by August.
Meanwhile, the negotiators are gearing up for the next round of preparatory talks here in Bonn for the “big meeting” in Mexico towards the end of the year. They’re starting early, in May.
I’ll try to keep you posted on any important developments.
DateMarch 12, 2010 | 12:37 pm