Shipwreck in the Arctic

Ships in Arctic Make Rescuers Sit ‘Up at Night’” (front page, July 24) is on point that prevention is the best course of action. Preventive measures for the worst case are in the works.

In the event of a shipwreck, a heavy fuel oil spill has been identified as the top threat to Arctic marine life and to Arctic residents who depend on this sea for food. Heavy fuel oil is far more toxic than lighter fuels, breaking down slowly, particularly in the cold Arctic.

Uncharted waters, extraordinary distances from infrastructure, severe weather, darkness and hazards including sea ice make spill response essentially impossible. Costs to shippers for a spill would be extreme.

Russian Arctic development forum due in Arkhangelsk region in fall

MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. /TASS/. A forum, devoted to management of the Russian Arctic's innovative development, will take place in mid-September in the Arkhangelsk region's Severodvinsk at the branch of the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. The forum's participants will discuss the Arctic zone's growth points and will pay special attention to development of mono-industrial cities, the University's press service said on Tuesday.

"Development of the Arctic territory is an important stimulus for development of industrial clusters, complexes, for formation of common innovative space," the press service said. "Thus, at the forum Management of the Russian Arctic Zone's Innovative Development" experts will discuss growth points."

"The project's head, leader of the conference's organizing committee Elena Bogdanova says the Arctic mono-industrial cities should become an important growth point and impetus for the Arctic's innovative development, thus the forum will take place in Severodvinsk, which is a mono-industrial city," the press service said.

The organizers have stopped receiving applications and say more than 300 representatives of Russian regions, first of all in the Arctic, will participate in the event.

New details on mercury’s route to the Arctic

By Stu Borman

Most deposition of the neurotoxic metal to tundra is Hg0 from atmosphere, not Hg2+ from rain and snow


Mining operations, coal-fired plants, and other sources of mercury pollution worldwide have led to the deposition of the neurotoxic metal in the Arctic. The chemical mechanism behind this deposition is not completely understood.

Environmental scientists’ prevailing hypothesis is that Hg from man-made and natural sources travels through the atmosphere and collects in the Arctic primarily as Hg2+ that falls in rain and snow.

Western North Atlantic sea temperatures linked to Arctic warming

In January 2016 the Arctic experienced unprecedented warming, with air temperatures as high as 8°C, some 20 degrees higher than average for the time of year. Extreme warming events like this have become more common in the Arctic, contributing to the strong warming trend observed in the region. But why is the Arctic warming faster than the rest of the world? A new study indicates that warmer sea surface temperatures in the western North Atlantic may be an important driver of Arctic warming.

Currently scientists are unable to agree on the major driver of Arctic warming. A number of contributors have been suggested, including decreased surface reflectivity due to less snow and ice, increased surface turbulent heat fluxes due to thinner ice, more downward longwave radiation due to additional water vapour and clouds over the Arctic region, and poleward transport of energy via atmospheric waves.

The Arctic Has Been Crazy Warm All Year. This Is What It Means for Sea Ice

By Brian Kahn

Melt season has begun in earnest in the Arctic. Scientists will spend the next few months watching sea ice turn into open water until the ice pack hits its nadir in early fall. The vagaries of the weather and ocean currents will play a major role in determining where this year’s Arctic sea ice minimum ranks. But the steady drumbeat of climate change ensures that it will likely be among the lowest on record.

New data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that sea ice extent was at its sixth-lowest mark for June. Sea ice was missing from 348,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean, an area about three times the size of Arizona.

Ban heavy fuel oil in the Arctic

By Ranulph Fiennes


London—Thirty-five years ago, as part of a global expedition, Charles Burton and I traveled across the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole, camping for three months on a fast-moving ice floe. It was, for us, a journey that defined our lives, and formed one leg of an enduring world record.

But another record, one far less stable, belongs to the Arctic ice itself: By March of this year, it had shrunk to the smallest size ever recorded.