World’s first large-scale area of acidified water found in Arctic Ocean

By BOB WEBER The Canadian Press

Acidity in the area has increased twice as fast any other body of water that’s been measured — and is now six times what it was 20 years ago.

 

Scientists have found the world’s first large-scale area of acidified water in the open ocean in the seas of the western Arctic.

“In other (oceans), you may have a small part with low pH, but the Arctic Ocean is the first one we have observed with a larger scale acidification,” said Wei-Jun Cai of the University of Delaware, co-author of a paper recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Utilizing Local Capacities in the Arctic

By Andreas Østhagen

The number of small-scale maritime emergency incidents occurring in Arctic waters is increasing.1) Demands are made for national governments to invest in and sustain relatively expensive Arctic capacities, such as coast guard vessels, long-range helicopters, and oil-spill response units. An often-overlooked dimension, however, are the local resources already present in Arctic communities. Albeit few and far between, Arctic communities is the foundation emergency management in the north must be built on. The question is: how can we utilize these capacities better, across the Arctic region?

Forget snow, rain will become main precipitation in the Arctic

The Arctic is set to get drenched in the next century.

Globally, precipitation is projected to increase by 2 per cent for every degree the planet warms, but in the Arctic that figure is double. By 2091, the Arctic will see a dramatic increase in overall precipitation and most of it won’t come in the form of snow – instead it will be rain.

“It’s quite a bit, a 50 to 60 per cent increase Arctic-wide. We found that most of this increase is due to the retreat of sea ice because of the Arctic warming,” says Richard Bintanja, a climate researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute who combined data from 37 climate models to predict precipitation in the Arctic between 2091 and 2100.

 

Shipments From Europe to Asia Through Arctic Are Still Rare

by Peter Buxbaum

 

Potential of Northern Sea Route Remains Unfulfilled

 

Russia is making a big move in the Arctic, building new infrastructure and promoting northern shipping routes as an alternative to the Suez Canal.

Shipping through the Arctic is being made more possible by the warming of the ocean and the retreat of sea ice made possible by climate change. Ironically, shipping from Asia to Europe and the Americas through the Arctic would save on fossil fuels, as well as time and costs.

Additional Arctic weather data raises forecast accuracy of Japan cold waves

A research team consisting of members from Japan's National Institute of Polar Research, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and other organizations conducted forecasting simulations of the cold waves that hit Japan and the North American East Coast in February 2015. Results showed that additional data collected that year through more frequent observation of meteorological conditions in the Arctic's upper atmosphere from both land-based research stations and the research vessel Lance plying winter Arctic waters improved the accuracy of cold wave forecasts.

In recent years, extreme winter weather events such as heavy snowfalls and severe winters have been occurring frequently in regions such as East Asia, North America and Europe. For example, Japan was experiencing a mild 2014/2015 winter when in February the winter pressure pattern strengthened. With it came record level snowfalls, to the Hokuriku region in particular. Memories are still fresh of the extreme record-setting -15°C cold wave that hit the North American East Coast a week later, which brought with it significant impacts on the region's people, transportation systems and economy. 

NASA study improves forecasts of summer Arctic sea ice

The Arctic has been losing sea ice over the past several decades as Earth warms. However, each year, as the sea ice starts to melt in the spring following its maximum wintertime extent, scientists still struggle to estimate exactly how much ice they expect will disappear through the melt season. Now, a new NASA forecasting model based on satellite measurements is allowing researchers to make better estimates.

Forecasts of how much Arctic sea ice will shrink from spring into fall is valuable information for such communities as shipping companies and native people that depend on sea ice for hunting. Many animal and plant species are impacted directly by changes in the coverage of sea ice across the Arctic. Uncertain weather conditions through spring and summer make the forecasting of Arctic sea ice for a given year extremely challenging.

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