Search Results for Tag: Tromso
A last look at Arctic Tromsö for this time.
Mind your step?
The Arctic Frontiers conference came to an end in Tromsö on Friday with more presentations and q/a sessions on different aspects of scientific research and findings on the region, from deepsea observatories to melting permafrost and the problems of climate change for indigenous peoples, including reindeer-herders in Arctic areas.
The papers are all available online.
Pick up some scientific papers from Arctic Frontiers
Meanwhile there’s been no stop to developments on climate change in the headlines. President Obama is going full speed ahead with his plans to tackle climate change.
The German government has reached an agreement on a (highly controversial)package to make people scrap their old cars, buy new ones, and – ideally, in theory – reduce emissions.
The German government has also given the go ahead for the iron fertilization experiment in the Antarctic we were discussing before I left for Tromso.
Latest on iron
WWF and others are protesting. There have been some alarming measurements of warming in the Antarctic. The new international Renewable Energies Agency has been launched. And WWF has come up with a new study on the economics of combatting climate change.
The Ice Blogger could blog on all day. Instead, I’ll leave you to check out the links and enjoy a couple of pics of the amazing colours of Arctic Norway from the air.
DateJanuary 27, 2009 | 11:54 am
No going back for the Arctic
(No emissions from this one for a while)
Professor Jean-Claude Gascard from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, heads the EU’s Damocles project, identifying the challenges from climate change. He gave a very sobering summary of the state of the Arctic sea ice and confirmed there is virtually no chance of reversing the current warming trend. Only several extremely severe winters could do that, and the scientific community is not expecting that.
Scientists tend to be reluctant to come out with anything they can’t prove, and Prof. Gascard summed up the main elements behind this conviction. Sea ice extent, depths, age and drift are key factors, as well as the air temperature and the number of “freezing degree days”.
By 2002 the ice was at a minimum based on some 50 years of observation. In 2005, there was no “replenishment” of older, multi-year ice exiting the Arctic ocean. This, Prof. Gascard describes as a “tipping point”.
The ice thickness has decreased over a wide area from more than 3 metres 20 or 30 years ago to around 1.5 metres. I remember my trip out on the sea ice in Barrow, Alaska, with Dr. Chris Petrich and the Climate Change College “ambassadors”. I can hear Erika Naga reading out the measurement “1 metre 40”, and the Inupiat telling us how it used to be much thicker.
The ice is melted in various ways: through warmer water from the Atlantic and Pacific underneath, heat from storms and increased radiation from above.
2007 of course was the year that really made everybody wake up. When the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern went out to set up ice platforms, there was no ice in their target area. The Tara, which has been frozen in and drifting with the ice to compare ice drift with the “Fram” expedition has been drifting three times faster than her predecessor. And the sea ice reached its minimum. 2008 saw almost the same negative record.
Sea ice reflects much more heat back into the atmosphere than water, (albedo effect) which is much darker and absorbs it, exacerbating the warming, in what’s called a “feedback loop”. Again, I was reminded of our trip on the Chukchi Sea with Chris Petrich from the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, who is collecting data on this to be put into global models.
And the number of “freezing degree days” has dropped massively in the last few years.
Professor Gascard’s summary of all this is available online on the Arctic Frontiers site.
And if you have the time and the inclination, have a(nother?) listen to the feature on my trip onto the sea ice with the Climate Change College.
Tromsö today (the days are getting lighter):
DateJanuary 23, 2009 | 4:35 pm
Politics and Science
The four hours (increasing daily) of daylight here are fascinating. The snow and the sky turn so many different shades of blues and pink, it’s tempting to stand outside and watch the show.
Of course Arctic Frontiers continues inside, so a quick photo session in the lunch-break has to suffice.
There are actually 3 different elements of this conference. The first two days were policy,the rest of the week science, with a parallel International Polar Year meeting taking place. People keep saying it would be great to bring the politicians and scientists together even more and have the ministers and commissioners here all week. To some extent, I think that’s true. Then again, the scientists need their own forum to discuss technical stuff. Some of them told me they were getting impatient with the politics, although they know governance is a key issue for the future of the Arctic.
Somehow, I don’t think the fact that we feel governments are too slow to take action to drastically reduce emissions would change much even if the ministers and commissioners could sit through all the science conferences. The information about the speed at which the Arctic is melting has got through to the politicians. The trouble is the changes we will have to make to our lifestyles and the slow rate at which we’ve been developing alternative technologies. The Norwegian ministers here said quite clearly Norway, for instance, will continue to depend on fossil fuels in coming decades and try to reduce emissions using new technologies like carbon capture and storage (still at experimental stage!)
We have to reduce our energy consumption and drastically increase our use of renewables. I’d say there’s a concensus here on that amongst scientists and politicians here.
One young German scientist said to me last night everybody who understands the science and the situation should just take a stand and support the call for a moratorium on any further exploitation of oil and gas in the Arctic. Now that would be a fine thing. But what about commercial interests? Sigh.
DateJanuary 22, 2009 | 4:06 pm
First Thursday impressions
For a quick listen to the short audio report from the conference, click here:
Arctic Frontiers on Living Planet
Off to the next presentation at Tromso University.
DateJanuary 22, 2009 | 2:28 pm
Apologies of a multitasking blogger…
Snowed up? One of the university buildings.
Attending a conference like this as a reporter has some disadvantages. You have to balance your time between listening, interviewing and producing the radio features. Inevitably, you miss out on some things. It’s all in a good cause, of course, to spread the message about what’s happening with regard to the climate in the Arctic region.
I produced a report for the environment programme Living Planet last night and this morning, which you can hear on this week’s programme.
Right now I’m attending the International Polar Year conference, which is one of two sessions available at Arctic Frontiers today. The present topic is the dynamic response of Arctic glaciers to global warming. It’s very technical and requires a bit more concentration, so I’ll leave you for now.
(These Tromso students are really dedicated to reducing emissions…,)
DateJanuary 21, 2009 | 12:39 pm