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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

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More snow less ice in the Antarctic

Princess Elisabeth Station  & windturbines - Copyright René Robert - International Polar Foundation

Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, Belgium’s research station
Copyright Ren̩ Robert РInternational Polar Foundation

Regular ice blog followers may remember a recent post including an Interview with Andrew Shepherd from Leeds University, UK, about ice melt in the Antarctic. One of the factors he explained was that increasing precipitation as a result of warming was falling on the East Antarctic ice sheet as snow and so increasing its mass. Although that particular study showed that the Antarctic has indeed been losing ice over the past 20 years, (contrary to popular opinion), increasing snow was balancing this loss to some extent. Now a study published in Nature shows that a lot of the ice increase from this snow is being lost again, because the extra snow puts pressure on the ice, making it flow faster towards the coast.

Date

December 14, 2012 | 9:41 am

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Record polar ice loss should spur action in Doha!

Eis vom Grönlandeisschild fließt am Equi-Gletscher ins Meer

Not a day seems to go by without another new revelation about the state of the polar ice, which we once though was such a normal, permanent feature of our planet. Now an international team of satellite experts has produced what they say is the most accurate assessment of ice losses from Greenland AND Antarctica to date and the result is devastating.

Date

November 30, 2012 | 11:30 am

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Ice in Doha?

The Arctic ice continues to melt as the climate talks kick off in Doha…

If you search the internet for ice and Doha, you’ll find out where you can buy ice in the capital of Qatar and where you can go ice-skating. Yes, even in the middle of this desert region you can indulge in a game of ice-hockey. The energy needed to chill the ice comes from burning fossil fuels, of which the country has plenty.The ice that interests the ice blogger, the ice of the Arctic, the Antarctic and the world’s glaciers is unfortunately suffering badly from those same CO2 emissions. Interesting food for thought, as this year’s UN climate conference kicks off in Doha. More on that from my colleague Andrea Rönsberg.

Qatar currently ranks number one or number three on the list of the world’s top per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases, depending on which figures you take.  The country could do wonders for its environmental image by agreeing to some firm emissions reductions targets during the negotiations. Of course in absolute terms, it’s China and the USA that have to take action to reduce their emissions soon if we are to get anywhere near keeping to the two degree target. The latest studies by UNEP and the World Bank tell us quite clearly we are heading for three, four or more degrees, unless the major emitters do something soon.

This year saw the Arctic sea ice declining to a record low. The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected. Climate change is also affecting the ice of the Antarctic. What happens in the Gulf city of Doha is of key importance to the future of our ice – which, in turn, helps keep the planet cool. The ice blog will be following developments in Qatar with great interest over the next two weeks. Watch this space.

Date

November 26, 2012 | 10:08 am

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The state of the climate report

This will probably be the last blog post for a few weeks, as the Ice Blogger is looking forward to a long, relaxing holiday. Let me draw your attention to the “monthly global state of the climate reports” published by the National Climatic Data Center of NOAA.

It seems slightly bizarre to see some of the anomalies and records there for September described as “Global Highlights”,  but assuming we mean highlights in terms of particularly striking events as opposed to features to rejoice about, let me give you a few for September from the NCDC report:

The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September on record, at 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F). Records began in 1880.

The globally-averaged land surface temperature for September 2012 was the third warmest September on record, at 1.02°C (1.84°F) above average. The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature tied with 1997 as the second warmest September on record, at 0.54°C (0.97°F) above average.

The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–September 2012 was the eighth warmest such period on record, at 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average.

Date

October 17, 2012 | 11:45 am

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Oil from the Arctic: to drill or not to drill…

 

Charles Emmerson listening to the presentation by Robert J. Blaauw, senior Arctic Adviser with Shell.

Charles Emmerson listening to the presentation by Robert J. Blaauw, senior Arctic Adviser with Shell.

Is not such an easy question to answer, Charles Emmerson from the British think-tank Chatham House told the Arctic Futures conference hosted by the International Polar Foundation and the EU committee of the regions in Brussels. In a session on the future of energy resources in the Arctic, he said it depends on various factors, including geographical location, economic costs and geo-political aspects. Emmerson was co-author of a study Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North  for Chatham House and Lloyds.

Date

October 9, 2012 | 9:54 am

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