Polar News

News from a variety of sources dealing with polar related topics. Many thanks to APECS members for contributing to this shared resources! You can add these articles as a RSS feed in your favorite reader.

Scientists say they were taken by surprise by the pace of the Arctic ice melt this year

OTTAWA - Arctic ice cover has reached another nadir, melting to its lowest point in recent history.

Scientists say the summer thaw climaxed on Wednesday and now will begin to turn with the coming of colder weather.

But the speed and extent of the melt this year has prompted them to revisit their projections for ice-free summers and for global warming more generally.

"It didn't just beat the 2007 minimum, it beat it by a whole lot," said Julienne Stroeve, a scientist from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

Read the full article here

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will realign four program offices in the Office of the Director to maximize research and educationoutcomes for science and engineering, while enhancing NSF's operational agility. The proposed organizational changes include:

        - The Office of Cyberinfrastructure becoming a division within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.
        - The Office of Polar Programs becoming a division within the Directorate for Geosciences.
        - The Office of International Science and Engineering merging with the Office of Integrative Activities, and the combined unit becoming the Office of International and Integrative Activities.

These realignments will not result in mission, budgetary, or staffing changes apart from senior leadership roles in the expanded organizations. Pending fulfillment of any statutory or other obligations, the transition to the realigned organization would begin Monday, 1 October 2012.

For further information, please go to: http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125381

via ArcticInfo

Pres release: WWF New Zealand

An alliance of conservation and environment organisations spanning the globe has criticised New Zealand’s revamped Ross Sea marine reserve proposal as failing to show conservation leadership in international negotiations over the future of the region.

The AOA has mapped the New Zealand Government’s proposal against data showing the richness of life in much of the Ross Sea region. The map shows that core areas of the Ross Sea region have been excluded from the marine reserve to preserve fishing interests. The proposal contains a map that shows how carefully the lines on the map have been drawn to avoid the main fishing grounds.

read the fulll arcticle here: 

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1209/S00152/critical-habitats-missing-from-nz-ross-sea-reserve-proposal.htm

by By Geoff Keey, New Zealand Coordinator, Antarctic Ocean Alliance

Yesterday we received some bad news from New Zealand about a proposal for the protection of the Ross Sea in Antarctica’s ocean. Plans for a marine reserve in the Ross Sea are in trouble after the New Zealand Cabinet rejected a draft agreement with the United States Government on a joint proposal to create the world’s biggest marine reserve in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

Read the full text here: 

http://antarcticocean.org/nz-rejects-marine-protection-proposal-for-the-ross-sea/

From UNIS News.

Never heard of glacier mice? Actually, they are small moss balls forming on glacier surfaces. New research by UNIS and Nottingham Trent University shows that there is “hopping” life in these fluffy balls. Invertebrates such as springtails and water bears literally thrive (and survive) in this ice-cold environment. 

Read the full article here

By Jonathan Ball, BBC News

The recent Antarctic Peninsula temperature rise and associated ice loss is unusual but not unprecedented, according to research. Analysis of a 364m-long ice core containing several millennia of climate history shows the region previously basked in temperatures slightly higher than today. However, the peninsula is now warming rapidly, threatening previously stable areas of ice, the study warns.

The work is reported in Nature journal

Read the full article here

Report by Rob Huebert, Heather Exner-Pirot, Adam Lajeunesse, and Jay Gulledge, Center for Climate and Energy Solution, May 2012

The rapid decline in summer sea ice cover in the past decade has outpaced scientific projections and is drawing international attention to emerging commercial development and transport opportunities previously blocked by the frozen sea. The Arctic is therefore a bellwether for how climate change may reshape geopolitics in the post–Cold War era.

Read the report here.

Read more: Climate Change and International Security: The Arctic as a Bellwether

The new Arctic research centre in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, will give a boost to science and sovereignty:

Read full article

Anniversary of Nunavut disaster brings gestures to honour the dead, a new research vessel, a monument, moment of silence

Read full article at:

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674aug._20_one_year_after_the_resolute_bay_air_disaster/

Two Canadian biologists have reported sighting a handful of grizzly bears and hybrid grizzly/polar bears at unusually high latitudes in the Arctic, indicating that the interbreeding of the two bear species is becoming more common as the climate warms and grizzlies venture farther north. The sightings of three grizzly bears and two hybrid bears, made in late April and May, represent an unprecedented cluster of these animals at such high latitudes. The biologists even took DNA samples from a grizzly bear at 74 degrees North latitude.  

Read full article at:

http://e360.yale.edu/digest/unusual_number_of_grizzly_and__hybrid_bears_spotted_in_high_arctic/3567/

On Aug. 8, the Greenland ice sheet shattered a seasonal record, with more cumulative melting since record-keeping began more than three decades ago, new research finds.

Greenland's melting season usually begins in June, when the first puddles of meltwater emerge, and lasts through early September, when temperatures begin to cool. This year, a full four weeks before the end of the melt season, the ice sheet had shed more water than the record reached during the full season in 2010.

Read More

Canadian federal scientists say increased number of killer whale sightings in Nunavut waters could be due to ice-free sea conditions.  Killer whales are known to predate narwhal and beluga.  Read full article at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/08/16/north-killer-whales-nunavut.html

A stronger than usual cyclone blew over the Arctic Ocean north of the Beaufort Sea this past week, says senior scientist Mark Serrezze from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre.  Storms of this magnitude may alter the sea ice cover and rate at which ice melt occurs. Full article at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/08/12/north-arctic-cyclone-beaufort-sea.html

Following a meeting of leaders in Lower Post, a community in northern British Columbia, is calling for the residential school to be torn down.  This comes during the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission process.  Read article at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/08/13/north-lower-post-residential-school.html

Katherine Stewart and a team of researchers from University of Saskatchewan and Yukon College have created the Northern Biochar for Northern Remediation project exploring the uses of "biochar" or charcoal created through pyrolysis as an soil remediation product.  They received the first NSERC grant ever given to a northern school (Yukon College).  Unlike conventional fertilizers, biochar only requires one-time addition to soil.  Read full article at:

http://yukon-news.com/business/29654/

European Commission: "INTERACT, International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic, has brought most of the Arctic's research stations together. It enables them to share information, improve environmental observations, make data more accessible and collaborate on the development of new environmental monitoring technology. 

At the outset, 32 partners from 14 countries formed the consortium together with the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and WWF Arctic. Since then, 12 new research stations have joined as observer stations, bringing 4 new countries into the consortium. INTERACT includes infrastructures throughout Alaska, Canada, Europe and northern Russia. "

Read the full article: http://ec.europa.eu/research/infrastructures/index_en.cfm?pg=success7 

INTERACT webpage: http://www.eu-interact.org/

The second edition of this intense, 10-day course organized by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks took place from June 10-20, immediately preceding the International Glaciological Society conference.  McCarthy is a small village about 10 hours southeast of Fairbanks, accessible only by a footbridge.  27 students spent their days with 9 instructors, attending lectures, completing exercises, developing group projects, and taking field excursions to the Kennicott Glacier.  Returning home after such a positive experience--filled with new knowledge, an expanded professional (and friend!) network, and magnificent landscapes--was bittersweet.  The Summer School was made possible by the following sponsors: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), University of Alaska at Fairbanks, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM), and International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).

New article from Chown et al., in Science magazine. The authors determined that the major short-term threats to Antarctica included climate change impacts on marine systems, marine resource use, ocean acidification, invasive alien species, pollution, habitat alteration, and regulatory challenges within the Antarctic Treaty system.

Read the full arcticle here: 

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6091/158.summary

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