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Putin’s Russia keen to exploit the Arctic for fossil fuels: more nuclear-powered icebreakers on the way

October 31, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, business and costs, climate change, politics, Russia | Leave a comment

Release of methane off East Siberian coast has been triggered,

‘Sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find

Exclusive: expedition discovers new source of greenhouse gas off East Siberian coast has been triggered,    Guardian,  Jonathan Watts Global environment editor  28 Oct 20 Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal.High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.

The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change.

The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere.

“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.

The scientists – who are part of a multi-year International Shelf Study Expedition – stressed their findings were preliminary. The scale of methane releases will not be confirmed until they return, analyse the data and have their studies published in a peer-reviewed journal.

But the discovery of potentially destabilised slope frozen methane raises concerns that a new tipping point has been reached that could increase the speed of global heating.

The Arctic is considered ground zero in the debate about the vulnerability of frozen methane deposits in the ocean.

With the Arctic temperature now rising more than twice as fast as the global average, the question of when – or even whether – they will be released into the atmosphere has been a matter of considerable uncertainty in climate computer models.

The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope about 600km offshore………………

Temperatures in Siberia were 5C higher than average from January to June this year, an anomaly that was made at least 600 times more likely by human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Last winter’s sea ice melted unusually early. This winter’s freeze has yet to begin, already a later start than at any time on record.  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/oct/27/sleeping-giant-arctic-methane-deposits-starting-to-release-scientists-find

October 29, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Unwanted nuclear submariness and military operations in the Arctic

Unwanted Nuclear Subs and Military Ops in the Arctic, High North News, 

Increased interest in the Arctic: “The U.S. Army has made a significant pivot”  There is a pivot in the U.S. Army to train and operate more in Alaska to rebuild skills, according to Major General Peter Andrysiak, commander U.S. Army Alaska. He says the U.S. Army soon will release its own Arctic strategy.

HILDE-GUNN BYE    23 Oct 20 As the Arctic region sees increased interest, the Army has made a “significant pivot and investment,” Major General Peter Andrysiak, commanding general of U.S. Army Alaska said during the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) annual convention last week……. HTTPS://WWW.HIGHNORTHNEWS.COM/EN/INCREASED-INTEREST-ARCTIC-US-ARMY-HAS-MADE-SIGNIFICANT-PIVOT

October 26, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Delayed freezing of Arctic sea due to continued freakish warm weather

October 24, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | 1 Comment

Climate change: Arctic Circle teens call for help to save their homes

Climate change: Arctic Circle teens call for help to save their homes

Teenagers living in remote Arctic communities say they’re worried about the effects of climate change. Scientists warn that melting ice and warming temperatures show rapid climate change is taking place.

Rarely heard young people from multiple countries within the Arctic Circle say their way of life is at risk and governments must act.  https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-54572400

October 19, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Global heating is unravelling the Arctic, much faster than expected

The Arctic is in a death spiral. How much longer will it exist?
The region is unravelling faster than anyone could once have predicted. But there may still be time to act
The great thaw: global heating upends life on Arctic permafrost – photo essay, Guardian, 
Gloria Dickie, Tue 13 Oct 2020 At the end of July, 40% of the 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf, located on the north-western edge of Ellesmere Island, calved into the sea. Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf was no more.On the other side of the island, the most northerly in Canada, the St Patrick’s Bay ice caps completely disappeared.

Two weeks later, scientists concluded that the Greenland Ice Sheet may have already passed the point of no return. Annual snowfall is no longer enough to replenish the snow and ice loss during summer melting of the territory’s 234 glaciers. Last year, the ice sheet lost a record amount of ice, equivalent to 1 million metric tons every minute.

The Arctic is unravelling. And it’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined just a few decades ago. Northern Siberia and the Canadian Arctic are now warming three times faster than the rest of the world. In the past decade, Arctic temperatures have increased by nearly 1C. If greenhouse gas emissions stay on the same trajectory, we can expect the north to have warmed by 4C year-round by the middle of the century.

There is no facet of Arctic life that remains untouched by the immensity of change here, except perhaps the eternal dance between light and darkness. The Arctic as we know it – a vast icy landscape where reindeer roam, polar bears feast, and waters teem with cod and seals – will soon be frozen only in memory.

A new Nature Climate Change study predicts that summer sea ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean could disappear entirely by 2035. Until relatively recently, scientists didn’t think we would reach this point until 2050 at the earliest. Reinforcing this finding, last month Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent in the 41-year satellite record………

At outposts in the Canadian Arctic, permafrost is thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. Roads are buckling. Houses are sinking. In Siberia, giant craters pockmark the tundra as temperatures soar, hitting 100F (38C) in the town of Verkhoyansk in July. This spring, one of the fuel tanks at a Russian power plant collapsed and leaked 21,000 metric tons of diesel into nearby waterways, which attributed the cause of the spill to subsiding permafrost.

This thawing permafrost releases two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere and exacerbates planetary warming.

The soaring heat leads to raging wildfires, now common in hotter and drier parts of the Arctic. In recent summers, infernos have torn across the tundra of Sweden, Alaska, and Russia, destroying native vegetation………..

Melting ice has made the region’s abundant mineral deposits and oil and gas reserves more accessible by ship. China is heavily investing in the increasingly ice-free Northern Sea Route over the top of Russia, which promises to cut shipping times between the Far East and Europe by 10 to 15 days.

The Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago could soon yield another shortcut. And in Greenland, vanishing ice is unearthing a wealth of uranium, zinc, gold, iron and rare earth elements. In 2019, Donald Trump claimed he was considering buying Greenland from Denmark. Never before has the Arctic enjoyed such political relevance………….

Stopping climate change in the Arctic requires an enormous reduction in the emission of fossil fuels, and the world has made scant progress despite obvious urgency. Moreover, many greenhouse gases persist in our atmosphere for years. Even if we were to cease all emissions tomorrow, it would take decades for those gases to dissolve and for temperatures to stabilize (though some recent research suggests the span could be shorter). In the interim, more ice, permafrost, and animals would be lost.

“It’s got to be both a reduction in emissions and carbon capture at this point,” explains Stroeve. “We need to take out what we’ve already put in there.”………..

The Arctic of the past is already gone. Following our current climate trajectory, it will be impossible to return to the conditions we saw just three decades ago. Yet many experts believe there’s still time to act, to preserve what once was, if the world comes together to prevent further harm and conserve what remains of this unique and fragile ecosystem. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2020/oct/13/arctic-ice-melting-climate-change-global-warming?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco&fbclid=IwAR0SmRG-W9vZp_dvqJIA_s4rUHo4CXVjgWSgnapv_EsoboQgosU8OsTL78A

October 15, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Reopening of a Cold-War era submarine base, as USA struggles to beat Russia to control the Arctic.

Arctic battlefield: Putin on alert as nuclear base reopens to counter Russian aggressionA COLD War-era nuclear submarine base has been reopened following “pressure” from the US to defend against Russian aggression in the Arctic. Express UK , By BILL MCLOUGHLIN, Mon, Oct 12, 2020  The base will now be reopened to house the US Navy’s three Seawolf submarines as Russia and America vie for control of the region. Norway’s government announced Olavsvern, near to the city of Tromso in the north of the country, will now be reopened after being closed 18 years ago. The complex has a 9,800ft deep underground water dock which has the ability to modify and refit nuclear submarines.

Norway’s national broadcaster, NPK said: “An agreement on the return of Olavsvern to the armed forces may be ready as early as this week, as a result of pressure from the US navy.”

Olavsvern will also be used to house submarines for NATO amid increased concerns over Russia’s activity in the region.

The base is located 220 miles from the Russia border and thus offers an ideal outpost for Western allies to quickly contain, and defend against any aggression from the state.

Modifications will now be made to the base in order for it to house America’s nuclear attack submarine, the USS Jimmy Carter.

The announcement of the base comes as the UK’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, warned China and Russia could soon exploit the Arctic Sea.

Due to climate change, he claimed the once-frozen passages are now thawing thus opening up potential naval routes.

With these routes now appearing, Chinese and Russian ships could now have gateways through to the UK.

He added the Royal Navy was essential in stopping these ships from trespassing in the UK’s waters but also policing the vital global trade routes………..

The undersea world matters. “Because this one remaining stealth medium is also the home to our nuclear deterrent. ”……  https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1346694/world-war-3-russia-cold-war-Norway-submarine-base-arctic-Vladimir-Putin

October 13, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Daunting task of removal of Russia’s spent nuclear fuel rods from Andreeva Bay

One-third of all nuclear waste removed from Cold War dump site  https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2020/10/one-third-all-nuclear-waste-removed-cold-war-dump-site

Another 12 special design casks with spent nuclear fuel from Cold War submarines are soon to be shipped out of Andreeva Bay on Russia’s Arctic Barents Sea coast. ByThomas Nilsen October 02, 2020

About 35% of the 21,000 spent uranium fuel elements originally stored in three rundown tanks is so far lifted out, repacked and sent to Russia’s reprocessing plant at Mayak in the South-Urals, informs Aleksandr Krasnoshchekov, director of the SevRAO’s branch in Andreeva Bay. SevRAO is the federal enterprise for handling radioactive waste in the northwestern region.

The company has a staff of 100 in Andreeva Bay in the Litsa fjord, a closed-for-civilians fjord near the border to Norway where the Northern Fleet has two basing points for nuclear submarines.

Here, the navy started to store casks with highly radioactive spent uranium fuel from its first nuclear-powered in the 1960s. First in rusty containers outdoor, later in a pool-building that broke down. In the 1980s, the elements were moved over to three concrete tanks in very poor conditions.

After nearly 20 years of improving the infrastructure, securing the site from leakages and building a new crane at the port, the first shipment with nuclear waste left Andreeva Bay in 2017.

Neighboring Norway has spent more than €30 million to support the cleanup of the nuclear dump located only about 50 km from its border.

Also Sweden, Great Britain, Italy and the European Commission have contributed. Italy, as an example, paid for building the “Rossita”, a special purpose ship sailing in shuttle from Andreeva Bay to Atomflot in Murmansk where the containers are reloaded to rail wagons. According to director Krasnoshchekov, the ongoing work is done based on contracts with these countries, he says in an interview with Vesti Murman.

Most of the work done so far concerns the elements easy to lift out.

Way more challenging times are ahead, as the damaged elements in the third tank, 3A, are to be secured and lifted out.

Take a closer look at the photo below to understand the scoop of the challenge. Some of these rusty, partly destroyed steel pipes contain fuel rods where the uranium will fall out if lifted straight up.

The work on tank 3A is scheduled to start in 2023, after tank 2A and 2B is completed. The experts are don’t want to start the most risky work before as much as possible of the other waste elements are removed. A criticality accident in Andreeva Bay is worst-case scenario.

As previously reported by The Barents Observer, the total radionuclide inventory in the three tanks is estimated to be equal to the remains of Rector No. 4 inside the Chernobyl sarcophagus in Ukraine. This according to a study by the British nuclear engineering company Nuvia.

The original 22,000 spent fuel elements dumped in Andreeva Bay are coming from 90-100 reactor cores powering the Soviet Union’s Cold War submarines sailing out from the naval bases along the coast of the Kola Peninsula from the late 1950s to 1982.

The first reactor cores of the November class submarines were reloaded in the early 1960s.

Additional to the spent fuel elements, some 10,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste from Andreeva Bay are shipped to the regional handling and storage facility in Saida Bay, a few hours sailing to the east on the Kola Peninsula. Huge piles of solid radioactive waste were stored outdoor summer and winter in the same area. Now, a building is erected to protect the boxes from rain and snow, before being repacked and shipped to the Saida Bay.

October 3, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Accelerating rate of ice sheet loss from Greenland

October 1, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

The Arctic Has Entered A New Climate State

The Arctic Has Entered A New Climate State, Radio Ecoshock  25 Sept 20  Ice is rapidly disappearing from both Poles. Two polar ice experts report latest science. From the U.S. National Center For Atmospheric Research in Colorado, Arctic scientist Laura Landrum: in 2020, the Arctic has reached a new climate state. Thomas Slater from Leeds University UK reports ice loss from glaciers has surpassed the worst case scenarios. Manhattan-size chunks falling away, other ice shelves shatter in unnatural heat and warmed-up seas.

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show ………..

The new water added to the ocean runs away to every country with a sea coast. It runs up estuaries, eats away coastlines, and piles up in every hurricane, high tide and storm. Slater agrees with NASA that in some cases, there is no way to stop these mountains of ice from becoming sea water. This massive change has happened. The tipping point for a grand melting of the world’s second biggest pile of ice, Greenland, was 20 years ago. Like light from the stars, rising seas just take a while to reach us.

Hot in the cold news, this: the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf lost a very large chunk of ice, like the volume of mountains, broken away in North Eastern Greenland – floating off into the Atlantic are new melting ice islands twice the size of Manhattan. I won’t try to pronounce the complicated Nordic name. Scientists also call it “79N”. According to satellite images, a portion of the shelf about 110 square kilometers – that’s 42 square miles of thick glacier – just shattered. It fell apart this summer.

This follows absolute record hot summers in the Arctic in 2019 and 2020, on top of the whole region warming around 3 degrees C since 1980. The far north has already gone past 3 degrees C of warming, way beyond the supposed safe line of 1.5 or even 2 degrees C. demanded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and agreed by most governments under the Paris Accord of 2015. The Arctic is already soaring into dangerous warming, and the ice is responding at rates older scientists would never have believed possible. ………….

the change in sea ice cover is,  Dr. Laura Landrum, scientist NCAR   says, the single largest driver of big climate changes not just in the Arctic, but around the world. Of course our emissions are forcing that change in sea ice cover, by warming not just the atmosphere, but the seas as well.

Now in the Arctic, the traditional expectations for the seasons no longer work. Aboriginal people can no longer hunt at the same times, and animals are confused or spending energy adapting as they can. Plant life will shift. So will insects.

Plus: changes in the Arctic will alter teleconnections to cycles, weather and variability further south. The “new Arctic climate” does not stay in the Arctic. Already we have observations, from Jennifer Francis at Rutgers, that reduction of Arctic sea ice and dramatic changes to the behavior of the Jet Stream further south may be linked. Dr. Landrum agrees. Another scientist on Radio Ecoshock, Dr. Ivana Cvijanovic found evidence of a teleconnection between changes in the Arctic and rainfall in California.  …….

There is no going back to the old Arctic. Summer sea ice will not return to levels seen in the 1950’s, when a crossing of the Northwest passage was a major newsworthy expedition requiring ice-breakers. Now individuals in yachts travel across the Canadian Arctic by themselves, while tankers and freighters move in the Arctic Ocean above Siberia, significantly shortening the route from China to Europe. From shipping to hope for more oil and gas, big business is betting the new Arctic climate is here to stay.

Will the growing season in the Tundra, formerly about 60 days, get longer? Could the Boreal forests begin to extend into the Arctic? In Siberia, Northwest Canada, and Alaska the treeline extends into the Arctic Circle, (about 66 degrees North). Also, if winters get shorter, that could mean an increase in Arctic wildfires. Even “more” rain does not necessarily mean more rain in the fire season. Rain may not stop wildfires, especially as Mike Flannigan told us that thin northern soils can dry out and be ready to burn just 3 sunny days after a rainfall. ……

THOMAS SLATER – GLACIER MELT HIGHER THAN WORST CASE SCENARIO,  Dr. Thomas Slater, University of Leeds    We are trying to look forward in time, to see what the force of rising seas will do. For me, one of the clearest examples comes with higher storm surges, like the dramatic flooding of lower Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. Are we already at a point where Polar ice loss is bringing more intense disasters?

Discussing an article in Nature published August 13, Grace Palmer in scitechdaily quotes scientist Marco Tedesco saying the percentage contribution of Greenland to sea level rise could increase from 20 to 25 percent now, to 30 or 40 percent by the end of the century.

We begin our state-of-the-glaciers talk with the sad example of the Okjökull Glacier (simple known as Ok) in Iceland. It is the first world glacier declared “dead” due to climate change. On that site is a plaque reading:

A letter to the future

Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.
In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge that we know
what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.

……….. , our climate situation is even worse than the best scientists thought. NASA has a mas balance graphic showing Greenland Ice Loss 2002-2016. That graphic reveals a steady staircase down in the balance of Greenland ice.

THE BIG TWO ON SEA LEVEL RISEWhen it comes to sea level rise, two key points:

1. more sea level rise is now coming from glacial meltwater than thermal expansion of warming seas

2. about 60% of that added sea level is coming from Greenland – more than from Antarctica……. https://www.ecoshock.org/2020/09/the-arctic-has-entered-a-new-climate-state.html

September 28, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Arctic pollution is worse than expected – tree rings studies reveal this

September 28, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, environment | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear-powered ice-breakers lead towards military domination of the Arctic

Russia’s Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Is a Step Toward Military Domination

The country is fast becoming an icebreaking superpower.  BY KYLE MIZOKAMI, SEP 24, 2020   Russia’s newest icebreaker, the nuclear-powered Arktika, is headed to its new homeport in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ship, painted in the colors of the Russian state flag, will operate north of the Arctic Circle in anticipation of a year-round shipping route across the icy far north. Arktika is part of Moscow’s emerging policy of exploiting a warming arctic region—and protecting its stake in the region from competitors.

  • Russia’s first new nuclear-powered icebreaker in decades, Arktika, is joining the country’s large fleet of icebreaking ships.
  • Arktika is capable of smashing through ice that’s nearly 10 feet thick.<
  • Millions of Russians live above the Arctic Circle, and warming ocean temperatures could create ice-free shortcuts between Asia and Europe.Russia’s newest icebreaker, the nuclear-powered Arktika, is headed to its new homeport in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ship, painted in the colors of the Russian state flag, will operate north of the Arctic Circle in anticipation of a year-round shipping route across the icy far north. Arktika is part of Moscow’s emerging policy of exploiting a warming arctic region—and protecting its stake in the region from competitors.

<Arktika is the first of a new class of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Construction began at the Baltic Shipyards in St. Petersburg in 2012 with a scheduled launch in 2017, but delays pushed the completion back to 2020. This past February, a short circuit damaged one of the ship’s three 300-ton electric motors, disabling one of the three propellers. Russian authorities ordered the ship to continue, however, and the ship is currently moving on just two propellers.

In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the country would ultimately have a fleet of 13 icebreakers, the majority of them nuclear-powered. …………..

Iceabreakers like Arktika could also allow Russia to militarily dominate the Northern Sea Route, smashing a route for Russian warships and transports full of Russian Marines. Warming temperatures will mean other countries, such as Canada and the U.S., will likely move to unlock natural resources previously trapped under sheets of sea ice, and Russia will be in a position to threaten oil, gas, and mineral exploration and exploitation…………. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a34128219/russia-nuclear-powered-icebreaker-arktika/

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global heating is disrupting the ground in Siberia

September 21, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Russia | Leave a comment

Arctic sea ice becomes a sea of slush

September 15, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Rapid climate change has made Greenland lose a record amount of ice

September 15, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment