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Arctic Current Events


A Record of Acid Rain in Greenland Ice
April 15, 2014 | University of Washington

“By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, University of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow.” Quoted from the University of Washington press release.

Using Unmanned Aircraft to Survey Polar Ice
April 8, 2014 | National Science Foundation

“Scientists studying the behavior of the world’s ice sheets–and the future implications of ice sheet behavior for global sea-level rise–may soon have a new airborne tool that will allow radar measurements that previously would have been prohibitively expensive or difficult to carry out with manned aircraft.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

How Sanctions Could Hit the Russian Wallet
April 1, 2014 | FuelFix

International sanctions against Russia could push up financing costs for their multibillion-dollar pipeline, LNG and offshore drilling projects.

Permafrost Studies
March 27, 2014 | USGS

“In the next 50 years, as arctic systems warm, the release of carbon and nitrogen in permafrost could greatly exacerbate the warming phenomenon. Thawing is impacting ecosystems on land and offshore.” Quoted from the USGS feature.

The Biggest Infrastructure Project Ever Built in Alaska?
March 20, 2014 | Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Senate is debating a large project that would involve a natural gas liquefaction plant on the North Slope coastline, a natural gas pipeline system and a natural gas processing plant. The State might have a stake in the project. Presently, lots of natural gas on the North Slope is being flared because it has no access to market. So much is being flared that it can be seen from space.

Related: What is liquefied natural gas?

Rivers Play Role in Arctic Sea Ice Melt
March 13, 2014 | NASA

“The heat from warm river waters draining into the Arctic Ocean is contributing to the melting of Arctic sea ice each summer. [...] NASA used satellite data to measure the surface temperature of the waters discharging from a Canadian river into the icy Beaufort Sea during the summer of 2012. They observed a sudden influx of warm river waters into the sea that rapidly warmed the surface layers of the ocean, enhancing the melting of sea ice.”

Largest Aircraft
March 11, 2014 | The Telegraph

The world’s largest aircraft is a hybrid between a helium airship, a helicopter and a plane.

It can transport tons of freight and stay airborne for up to three weeks! It is expected to see duty in some of the most challenging environments.

Ice-Free Shipping Through the Arctic
March 6, 2014 | Nature.com

A post on the Nature News Blog reports that by 2030 the Norther Sea Route through the Arctic Ocean above Eurasia is expected to be navigable for nine weeks per year. The Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is expected to be navigable for five weeks per year.

Perpetual Ocean Video
February 9, 2014 | NASA on YouTube.com

“This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through Decemeber 2007. The visualization does not include a narration or annotations; the goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience.” Quoted from the NASA YouTube Channel.

A Glacial Speed Record
February 9, 2014 | National Geographic

The Jakobshavn Glacier, which is thought to have produced the iceberg that sank the Titanic is moving about 4x as fast as it was in the 1990s.

Snow-Covered Trees?
January 30, 2014 | Weather Channel

The Weather Channel has some interesting photos of some snow covered trees from in northern Finland, near the Arctic Circle. If you didn’t know the scale you might think that they are clouds from an atomic or volcanic blast.

Global Temperature Trends
January 26, 2014 | NASA Earth Observatory

NASA’s Earth Observatory has published a pair of maps that show global temperature trends. The map below shows the average change in temperature in degrees Celsius per decade between 1950 and 2013.

Ice Quake in Wisconsin?
January 14, 2014 | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Check out this photo of a Wisconsin resident measuring a 100-foot-long “fault” caused by an “ice quake”.

Another article with a video here. Lots of news accounts here.

Why Was It So Cold Last Week?
January 12, 2014 | Climate.gov

An article on Climate.gov explains why a large mass of dense, extremely cold air flowed over much of the United States last week.

From the article… “Meteorologists have known for years that the pattern of the polar vortex determines how much cold air escapes from the Arctic and makes its way to the U.S. during the winter.”

Steam Fog Streaming from the Great Lakes
January 9, 2014 | NASA Earth Observatory

“A swirling mass of Arctic air moved south into the continental United States in early January 2014. On January 3, the air mass began breaking off from the polar vortex, a semi-permanent low-pressure system with a center around Canada’s Baffin Island. The frigid air was pushed south into the Great Lakes region by the jet stream, bringing abnormally cold temperatures to many parts of Canada and the central and eastern United States.

When the cold air passed over the relatively warm waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, the contrast in temperatures created a visual spectacle. As cold, dry air moved over the lakes, it mixed with warmer, moister air rising off the lake surfaces, transforming the water vapor into fog—a phenomenon known as steam fog.” Quoted from NASA’s Earth Observatory.

The Polar Vortex
January 7, 2014 | Los Angeles Times

A moving mass of dense, cold, Arctic air known as a “polar vortex” is bringing severe temperatures and strong winds to much of the United States and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

The Greenland Ice Sheet Holds an Unusual Aquifer
January 1, 2014 | The University of Utah

“Researchers have discovered a new aquifer in the Greenland Ice Sheet that holds liquid water all year long in the otherwise perpetually frozen winter landscape. [...] The reservoir is known as a “perennial firn aquifer” because water persists within the firn – layers of snow and ice that don’t melt for at least one season.” Quoted from The University of Utah press release.

Prirazlomnoye: The First Russian Field in the Arctic Ocean
December 29, 2013 | The Moscow Times

Gazprom, the oil company controlled by the Russian government has announced that the first production is being taken from the Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Russian Arctic Ocean.

Message in a Bottle in the Canadian Arctic
December 29, 2013 | The Chronicle Herald

Messages in a bottle are usually found at beaches, however, one was recently found in a rock cairn on Ward Hunt Island, the closest land point in Canada to the North Pole. The message was dated 1959 and asked the finder to help document evidence of climate change.

The Arctic Ocean as a Carbon Sink and Carbon Dioxide Source
December 4, 2013 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“While the Arctic Ocean is largely a carbon sink, researchers find parts are also a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide.” Quoted from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology article.

Natural Gas Flaring from Space
October 30, 2013 | Geology.com

We have posted views of Earth from NASA’s Suomi satellite that show night illumination and natural gas flaring for oil industry sites in the Bakken Formation, Eagle Ford Shale, Alaska North Slope, United States Gulf, Mexican Gulf, Venezuela Orinoco Field, Brazil offshore basins, North Sea, North Africa onshore, west Africa offshore, and Persian Gulf.

Shale Oil to Hudson Bay and on to Europe??
October 27, 2013 | E & E Publishing

E & E Publishing has a new article titled: Moving shale oil across melting tundra: huge and potentially risky business. It concerns a proof-of-concept transport of oil by rail from wells in the Bakken Shale and Alberta Oil sands to a Hudson Bay port for shipment to Europe. This is another alternative for a failing Keystone XL pipeline effort.

Potential 21st Century Temperature, Precipitation Changes
October 19, 2013 | NASA

“Models used by the IPCC estimate global temperature and precipitation patterns will change throughout the 21st century given current rising greenhouse gas levels. This video depicts a scenario in which carbon dioxide concentrations reach 670 parts per million by 2100, up from around 400 ppm today.” Quoted from the NASA video release.

Enormous Ice Sheets Scoured the Arctic Ocean Floor
October 11, 2013 | Alfred Wegener Institute

“We knew of such scour marks from places like the Antarctic and Greenland. They arise when large ice sheets become grounded on the ocean floor and then scrape over the ground like a plane with dozens of blades as they flow. The remarkable feature of our new map is that it indicates very accurately right off that there were four or more generations of ice masses, which in the past 800,000 years moved from the East Siberian Sea in a north-easterly direction far into the deep Artic Ocean.” Quoted from the Alfred Wegener Institute press release.

Rapid Ocean Acidification in the Arctic
September 17, 2013 | USGS

“Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem.” Quoted from the USGS Newsroom.

Climate Change and Extreme Weather
September 9, 2013 | National Geographic

A National Geographic article titled: Scientists Weigh Climate Change Role in 2012 Weather explores the possibility that human-induced climate change might have contributed to Hurricane Sandy, drought in the Midwest or melting arctic ice.

Canyon Beneath Greenland Ice is 460 Miles Long
September 1, 2013 | NASA

“Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon has been discovered below Greenland’s ice sheet. Using radar data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge and other airborne campaigns, scientists led by a team from the University of Bristol found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier.” Quoted from the NASA video release.

Plumbing Under the Greenland Ice Sheet
August 27, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“Scientists’ understanding of how Greenland Ice Sheet melt water travels in passages along the bedrock below fails to account for some key processes. This, in turn may be affecting their assessment of how ice sheets respond to climate change.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

$60T Methane Time Bomb in the Arctic
July 25, 2013 | Erasmus University Rotterdam

“Economic modelling shows that the methane emissions caused by shrinking sea ice from just one area of the Arctic could come with a global price tag of 60 trillion dollars – the size of the world economy in 2012.” Quoted from the Erasmus University Rotterdam press release.

Related: What is Methane Hydrate?

Exxon to Invest $3.2 Billion in the Russian Arctic
June 28, 2013 | FuelFix.com

In a joint venture with Rosneft (the Russian state oil company), Exxon will invest $3.2 billion in exploration efforts in the Russian Arctic and Black Sea.

The Permafrost Timebomb?
June 13, 2013 | NASA

Over hundreds of thousands of years the Arctic permafrost has accumulated an enormous store of organic carbon. As it thaws from climate change the plant debris will decay and carbon dioxide and methane will be release into the atmosphere. Permafrost contains at least 4x more carbon than fossil fuel burning has produced since 1850.

Cloning a Russian Mammoth?
June 4, 2013 | Deutsche Welle

A well-preserved woolly mammoth with liquid blood has been found in the Russian Arctic. Now Russian and South Korean researchers are talking about attempting to produce a clone.

Northern Hemisphere Losing Its Last Dry-Snow Region
May 24, 2013 | Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

“Last July, something unprecedented in the 34-year satellite record happened: 98 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s surface melted, compared to roughly 50 percent during an average summer.” Quoted from the CIRES press release.

No Keystone XL? Send Tankers Through the Arctic
May 6, 2013 | Alaska Dispatch

The government of Alberta is looking into the possibility of shipping tar sand crude to foreign markets on tankers through the increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean.

Shell Bets Big on Natural Gas
May 6, 2013 | New York Times

Royal Dutch Shell has made major investments in developing conventional and unconventional natural gas resources in several parts of the world, building LNG terminals to prepare it for distant markets, develop the first floating LNG facility and develop new methods to convert natural gas into liquid fuels.

The First Satellite Images of Polar Ice Coverage
April 26, 2013 | BBC

BBC.com has an article about the first satellite maps of the Arctic and Antarctic, produced in the 1960s and now providing useful information about polar ice change.

Low Arctic Clouds and Ice Sheet Melting
April 8, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“Clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were “just right” for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point, according to a new study by scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Quoted from the NSF press release.

Insects and the Lack of Water in Polar Areas
March 15, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“Although they live in similarly extreme ecosystems at opposite ends of the world, Antarctic insects appear to employ entirely different methods at the genetic level to cope with extremely dry conditions than their counterparts that live north of the Arctic Circle.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

Climate Change Pushing Species North
March 14, 2013 | Discovery.com

A gallery on the Discovery.com website illustrates how warming climates in many parts of the world are pushing plant species

Clouds and the Arctic Climate System
March 13, 2013 | CIRES @ University of Colorado at Boulder

“Clouds are a critical element of the climate system, especially in the Arctic where surface energy budgets and precipitation can have dramatic impacts on the fate of sea ice and ice sheets.” Quoted from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences press release.

Temperature History of Earth Since the Ice Age
March 11, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have reconstructed Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

Using the Yeti Robot in Polar Field Work
March 7, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers [...] have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

Arctic vs Antarctic Biodiversity
February 19, 2013 | University of Western Australia

“The robustness of food webs of Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems has been compared for the first time, revealing that global warming can affect the biodiversity of these ecosystems in different ways despite the similarities between them.” Quoted from the University of Western Australia press release.

Living on a Polar Yacht in the Arctic
February 13, 2013 | CNN

The Brossier Family has spent the past eight winters living on a yacht in the Arctic and collecting scientific data. Pack ice, icebergs, glaciers, Arctic wildlife and the Aurora are daily experiences.

The Future of Russian Oil Exploration
February 11, 2013 | Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young has released a report titled: The Future of Russian Oil Exploration.

It has interesting information on: reserve life of major companies, a forecast of declining oil production, drilling success rates, time between discovery and first oil, prospective oil areas map of the Arctic Ocean, foreign investment rates and more.

The Next Generation Arctic Research Vessel (video)
February 7, 2013 | National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation [...] has successfully launched the R/V Sikuliaq, a “next-generation” global class research vessel. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences will operate the ship as part of the U.S. Academic Research Fleet.

Information from Greenland Ice Cores
January 27, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“The International North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling project results indicate that melting of the Antarctic ice sheet may have contributed more to sea level rise than melting of the Greeland ice sheet some 100,000 years ago.” Quoted from the NSF press release.


The edge of the Greenland ice sheet, near Kangerlussuaq. Peter West, NSF.

National Climate Assessment
January 25, 2013 | U.S. Global Change Research Program

“Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.” Quoted from the Executive Summary of the Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report

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