Are methane seeps in the Arctic slowing global warming?

By Randall Hyman

 

Good news about climate change is especially rare in the Arctic. But now comes news that increases in one greenhouse gas—methane—lead to the dramatic decline of another. Research off the coast of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago suggests that where methane gas bubbles up from seafloor seeps, surface waters directly above absorb twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as surrounding waters. The findings suggest that methane seeps in isolated spots in the Arctic could lessen the impact of climate change.

“This is … totally unexpected,” says Brett Thornton, a geochemist at Stockholm University who was not involved in the research. These new findings challenge the popular assumption that methane seeps inevitably increase the global greenhouse gas burden.

Researchers Have Started a Trial to Refreeze the Arctic

By Dom Galeon

 A spin-off of an ambitious idea to refreeze the Arctic using machines is about to get a trial run in Switzerland where a team of researchers plan to add ice to a glacier in the Alps using snow machines.

SNOW MACHINES

One of the strongest and most obvious indications of global warming is the receding polar ice caps, most specifically, the Arctic sheets. In February of this year, scientists brought up a peculiar solution for combating melting ice caps: refreezing them. Now, this seemingly outlandish idea is about to get a test run in Switzerland.

Why is the Arctic melting faster than the Antarctic?

A new report says the Arctic may be ice-free by 2040. The Antarctic is also melting, albeit far slower, and in a less regular pattern. Why do the two poles react so differently in the face of climate change?

 

First, the bad news: The Arctic is melting much faster than expected, and could even be ice-free in summer by the late 2030s, a report from the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program suggests. Previous studies had forecast an ice-free North Pole in summer by mid-century.

While the outlook is bleak for the Arctic, there is a silver lining for the Antarctic: The ice is melting at a slower rate than previously thought. Although glacier flow has increased since the 1990s, scientists from University of Leeds have found the melting rate to be only around a third of what was previously projected.

Walrus, caribou face extinction in Arctic

Montreal - Both Atlantic walrus and eastern migratory caribou are at risk of extinction in Canada's Arctic, a panel of experts has warned.

 

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, said that the number of Canadian northern wildlife species at risk now stands at 62.

"Over the past few decades, the areas inhabited by the few thousand High Arctic walruses and the more numerous Central and Low Arctic population have shrunk and continue to do so. As the climate warms and sea ice recedes, interaction with industry and tourism is increasing," the experts' report said.

"These threats, layered upon ongoing harvesting, led the committee to recommend a status of Special Concern for both populations."

 

The walrus is both unique, and especially sensitive to environmental changes, experts noted.

Can Arctic ecosystems survive without river icings?

By DAVE BERNDTSON  

Winter ice deposits that form on top of Arctic rivers and provide crucial water for ecosystems in the summer are melting far earlier with each successive year. 

These arctic river icings, which can be up to 33 feet thick, multiple kilometers wide and stretch tens of kilometers in length, disappeared on average 26 days earlier in 2015 than they did in 2000, according to a study published recently in Geophysical Research Letters

“The average trend in disappearance date is more than a day per year. That’s really fast. These changes are not subtle,” said Tamlin Pavelsky, a hydrologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the study’s co-author. 

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