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Arctic circle countries ravaged by wildfires – Sweden worst affected

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help http://www.inkl.com/news/sweden-calls-for-help-as-arctic-circle-hit-by-wildfires?sharer=20552, By Jonathan Watts, July 18, 2018

At least 11 wildfires are raging inside the Arctic Circle as the hot, dry summer turns an abnormally wide area of Europe into a tinderbox.

The worst affected country, Sweden, has called for emergency assistance from its partners in the European Union to help fight the blazes, which have broken out across a wide range of its territory and prompted the evacuations of four communities.

Tens of thousands of people have been warned to remain inside and close windows and vents to avoid smoke inhalation. Rail services have been disrupted.

The Copernicus Earth observation programme, which gives daily updates of fires in Europe, shows more than 60 fires burning across Sweden, with sites also ablaze in Norway, Finland and Russia, including in the Arctic Circle.

Norway has sent six fire-fighting helicopters in response to its neighbour’s request for assistance. Italy is sending two Canadair CL-415s – which can dump 6,000 litres of water on each run – to Örebro in central southern Sweden.

In western Sweden, fire-fighting operations were temporarily halted near an artillery training range near Älvdalen forest due to concernsthat unexploded ordnance might be detonated by the extreme heat.

Residents in Uppsala said they could see the plumes of smoke and have been banned from barbecuing in national parks, after 18 consecutive days without rain.

“This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires. Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive,” said Mike Peacock, a university researcher and local resident.

There have been huge fires in the past in Sweden, but not over such a wide area. This appears to be a trend as more and bigger blazes are reported in other far northern regions like Greenland, Alaska, Siberia and Canada.

The sparks come from a variety of sources: BBQs, cigarettes and increasingly lightning, which is becoming more frequent as the planet warms.

Swedish authorities say the risk of more fires in the days ahead is “extremely high” due to temperatures forecast in excess of 30C. Much of the northern hemisphere has sweltered in unusually hot weather in recent weeks, breaking records from Algeria to California and causing fires from Siberia to Yorkshire. Ukraine has been hit especially hard by wildfires.

The European Forest Fire Information System warned fire danger conditions were likely to be extreme across much of central and northern Europe in the coming weeks.

EU officials said many of this year’s fires are outside the traditional European fire zone of the Mediterranean, and are increasingly taking place at unexpected times of year. 2017 was the worst fire year in Europe’s history, causing destruction to thousands of hectares of forest and cropland in Portugal, Spain and Italy, as late as November. “There are clear trends of longer fire seasons and frequent critical periods in Europe that are leading to dangerous fire situations,” said a European commission official.

Climate scientists said the Arctic and other areas that were once relatively fire-free are likely to become more vulnerable.

“What we’re seeing with this global heatwave is that these areas of fire susceptibility are now broadening, with the moors in north-west England and now these Swedish fires a consequence of that,” said Vincent Gauci, professor of global change ecology at the Open University.

“Both these areas are typically mild and wet which allows forests and peatlands to develop quite large carbon stores,” he added. “When such carbon-dense ecosystems experience aridity and heat and there is a source of ignition – lightning or people – fires will happen.”

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July 20, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Sweden | Leave a comment

Arctic climate change: The northern Barents Sea has warmed 1.5 degrees Celsius in just 18 years

Huge part of Arctic ocean is shifting to an Atlantic climate, study finds
The northern Barents Sea has warmed 1.5 degrees Celsius in just 18 years,
Independent, Chris Mooney 28 June 1

June 29, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

In a drill, fake terrorists take over Russia’s Arctic radioactive waste storage site

In a drill, fake terrorists take over Arctic radioactive waste storage site

Russian officials have said they thwarted a terrorist attack at a facility storing old radioactive components from nuclear vessels located in the Arctic — but don’t worry. It was just a drill. Bellona,    by Anna Kireeva

Russian officials have said they thwarted a terrorist attack at a facility storing old radioactive components from nuclear vessels located in the Arctic — but don’t worry. It was just a drill.

The simulated siege was part of a large-scale exercise called Atom-2018, and was meant to prepare workers at the Sayda Bay for the worst – an armed incursion into a sensitive facility within Russia’s vast but fragile nuclear waste storage industry, complete with bombs, hostages and political demands.

According to reports, staff at the facility were alerted to the fact that the exercise was a drill. The purpose of the fake crisis, rather than scaring workers at a radioactive materials storage site, was to prepare officials from Russia’s security services to map out countermeasures specifically designed for the Sayda Bay site.

Sayda Bay is a part of the Murmansk branch of RosRAO, the state operator responsible for the management and storage and handling of non-nuclear radioactive waste, as well as decommissioning nuclear vessels, especially submarines.

Located 60 kilometers from Murmansk, Sayda Bay is itself an old Soviet-era military base. Since 2004, it has been tasked with storing reactor compartments from the dismantled submarines of Russia’s once overwhelming Northern Fleet of nuclear submarines.

Later, facilities were built at Sayda Bay to handle and condition radioactive waste. Currently it houses about 80 single unit reactor blocks and has space for 40 more. Eventually, the site will hold the irradiated remains of the Lepse, a nuclear icebreaker refueling vessels that is carefully being pulled apart at the Nerpa Shipyard near Murmansk.

It was the radioactive waste storage facility at Sayda Bay that was targeted by the would be terrorists. According to a release on the exercise, the assailants seized the facility, took hostages from among its workers, and put forth a demand for regime change. Unless their demands were met, said the insurgents, they would detonate a bomb…….http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2018-05-in-a-drill-fake-terrorists-take-over-arctic-radioactive-waste-storage-site

June 1, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Greenpeace demands strict safety controls on floating nuclear reactor in the Arctic

Floating nuclear power plant reaches the Arctic, Greenpeace demands strict safety controls   by Greenpeace International    Vienna, Austria – As Russia’s state-run corporation Rosatom prepares to celebrate the arrival of its first purpose-built floating nuclear power plant in the Arctic city of Murmansk, campaigners are warning of threats to people and nature and calling for a full environmental impact assessment and independent nuclear oversight.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, safety, technology | Leave a comment

A maritime catastrophe waiting to happen – Russia’s Floating Nuclear Power Plant in the Arctic

Reasons Why a Floating Nuclear Power Plant in the Arctic is a Terrible Idea    http://www.maritimeherald.com/2018/reasons-why-a-floating-nuclear-power-plant-in-the-arctic-is-a-terrible-idea/, BY SVILEN PETROV,  -11 May 18,  This enormous monstrosity is the first floating nuclear power plant built in the world. And now it’s heading to the Arctic. No, it’s not a joke or science fiction, it’s really happening.

 

Rosatom, Russia’s state-controlled nuclear giant, has just launched the Akademik Lomonosov, the first of a fleet of floating nuclear power plants that Russia plans to build and sell to other countries such as China, Indonesia and Sudan. It is currently being towed across the Baltic Sea, where it will travel all of Scandinavia to Murmansk, to be supplied and tested, before departing on a 5,000 kilometre trip through the Arctic.

We already know the risks of drilling for oil in such a fragile and wild environment as the Arctic, but a nuclear reactor floating in its waters could aggravate things much more. This is why:

  1. It is a matter of time that a catastrophe occurs

Rosatom has said that the plant “is designed with a large margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors indestructible in the face of tsunamis and other natural disasters.” Remember what happened the last time they said a boat was “unsinkable”?

Nothing is indestructible. The problem is that this nuclear Titanic has been built without independent experts to verify it. The same lack of supervision that there was in Chernobyl.

The flat bottom hull of this plant makes it especially vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones. A large wave could launch the station to the coast. Also, he can not move alone either. If you release moorings, you can not move away from a threat (such as an iceberg or a strange vessel, for example) increasing the risk of a fatal incident. A collision shock would damage your vital functions, causing a loss of power and damaging your cooling function.

  1. Imagine how difficult it would be to deal with the consequences

There are so many things that could go wrong here: it could flood, sink or run aground. All of these scenarios could lead to the release of radioactive substances into the environment.

In case of a collapse, the ocean water would cool the core. It may seem like a good idea, but when the fuel rods are melted with seawater, there would first be a water explosion and possible explosions of hydrogen that would propagate a large number of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere.

Damage to the reactor could contaminate much of the marine wildlife that is nearby, which means that fish populations could be contaminated in the coming years. The radioactive Arctic is not the most beautiful scenario. The areas around Fukushima and Chernobyl are already difficult to clean, imagine in the polar night, with sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms.

  1. The terrible trajectory of nuclear ships, icebreakers and Russian submarines

In Russia, there is a very long list of accidents with nuclear submarines and icebreakers.

The first nuclear icebreaker, Lenin, suffered a cooling accident in 1965, which caused a partial melting of the nucleus, which ended up pouring into the Tsivolki Bay near the Novaya Zemyla archipelago in 1967. In 1970, the reactor of a nuclear submarine ( K-320) was launched at the Krasnoye Sormovo pier in Russia, releasing large amounts of radiation and exposing hundreds of people. An accident during the fuel loading of a nuclear submarine reactor in Chazma in 1985 irradiated 290 workers, causing 10 deaths and 49 injured people. And the list goes on …

Rosatom’s plans to build a fleet of floating nuclear power plants pose an increased risk of unprecedented nuclear accidents in the Arctic.

  1. A nuclear dump in the water

We already have enough radioactive waste without knowing what to do with them. We do not need more.

The reactors of this plant are smaller than those found in a nuclear power plant on land and will need to be refuelled every two or three years. The radioactive waste will be stored on board until it returns after the designated 12 years of operation. That means radioactive waste will be left floating in the Arctic for years.

This is not only incredibly dangerous, but there is still no safe place to transport the fuel used once you step on firm ground. No source of energy must generate waste that takes thousands of years to be safe.

  1. Is using nuclear energy to facilitate the extraction of more fossil fuels

If this floating nightmare were not already absurd enough, the reason they are towing it to the Arctic is to help Russia extract more fossil fuels. Its main mission is to provide electricity to the northern oil, gas, coal and mineral extraction industries.

And it is not necessary to repeat the reasons why more fossil fuels are synonymous with more climate change. We only have to protect the Arctic from this potential catastrophe.

Responsible for the anti-nuclear campaign of Greenpeace Spain, Source: El Independiente

May 12, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Global climate change underway – the message from melting Arctic sea ice

Melting Arctic sends a message: Climate change is here in a big way, The Conversation,  Mark Serreze, Research Professor of Geography and director, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, 

Scientists have known for a long time that as climate change started to heat up the Earth, its effects would be most pronounced in the Arctic. This has many reasons, but climate feedbacks are key. As the Arctic warms, snow and ice melt, and the surface absorbs more of the sun’s energy instead of reflecting it back into space. This makes it even warmer, which causes more melting, and so on.

This expectation has become a reality that I describe in my new book “Brave New Arctic.” It’s a visually compelling story: The effects of warming are evident in shrinking ice caps and glaciers and in Alaskan roads buckling as permafrost beneath them thaws.

But for many people the Arctic seems like a faraway place, and stories of what is happening there seem irrelevant to their lives. It can also be hard to accept that the globe is warming up while you are shoveling out from the latest snowstorm.

Since I have spent more than 35 years studying snow, ice and cold places, people often are surprised when I tell them I once was skeptical that human activities were playing a role in climate change. My book traces my own career as a climate scientist and the evolving views of many scientists I have worked with.  When I first started working in the Arctic, scientists understood it as a region defined by its snow and ice, with a varying but generally constant climate. In the 1990s, we realized that it was changing, but it took us years to figure out why. Now scientists are trying to understand what the Arctic’s ongoing transformation means for the rest of the planet, and whether the Arctic of old will ever be seen again.

Evidence piles up

Evidence that the Arctic is warming rapidly extends far beyond shrinking ice caps and buckling roads. It also includes a melting Greenland ice sheet; a rapid decline in the extent of the Arctic’s floating sea ice cover in summer; warming and thawing of permafrost; shrubs taking over areas of tundra that formerly were dominated by sedges, grasses, mosses and lichens; and a rise in temperature twice as large as that for the globe as a whole. This outsized warming even has a name: Arctic amplification.

……….  Indeed, the question is no longer whether the Arctic is warming, but how drastically it will change – and what those changes mean for the planet. https://theconversation.com/melting-arctic-sends-a-message-climate-change-is-here-in-a-big-way-95573

April 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Loss of ice in Russian Arctic has doubled over past 10 years

Russian Arctic glacier loss doubles as temps warm https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/cu-rag042518.phpCORNELL UNIVERSITY , 25 Apr 18, ITHACA, N.Y. – Ice mass loss in the Russian Arctic has nearly doubled over the last decade according to Cornell University research published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.

The research focused on Franz Josef Land, a glaciated Russian archipelago in the Kara and Barents seas – among the northernmost and most remote parcels of land on Earth.

“Glaciers there are shrinking by area and by height. We are seeing an increase in the recent speed of ice loss, when compared to the long-term ice-loss rate,” said lead researcher Whyjay Zheng, a Cornell University doctoral student in geophysics. “We are finding out that the ice is changing more rapidly than we previously thought,” said Zheng. “The temperature is changing in the Arctic faster than anywhere else in the world.”

From 1953 to 2010, the average rate of ice surface loss was 18 centimeters per year. From 2011 to 2015, the ice surface decrease was 32 centimeters per year, which is a water loss of 4.43 gigatons annually, said Zheng. For perspective, that much water would raise the level of Cayuga Lake — the longest of New York state’s Finger Lakes, at 38 miles — by 85 feet and inundate the cities of Ithaca and Seneca Falls.

he Arctic has been warming in recent decades, but glaciers across the region are responding in different ways. “Previous studies have shown that the glaciers in northern Canada seem to be shrinking at a faster rate than the ones in some parts of northern Russia,” said senior author Matt Pritchard, Cornell professor of geophysics.

“Our work takes a closer look at the Russian glaciers to understand why they might be responding to a warming Arctic differently than glaciers in other parts of the Arctic. Why glaciers in Franz Josef Land have been shrinking more rapidly between 2011 and 2015 than in previous decades is possibly related to ocean temperature changes,” said Pritchard.

###

Support for Zheng’s research was provided by an Overseas Ph.D. Scholarship funded by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Drastic action on fossil fuels is needed, as the Poles melt – with unpredictable consequences

The Guardian view on Antarctica: the worrying retreat of the ice https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/05/the-guardian-view-on-antarctica-the-worrying-retreat-of-the-ice  Editorial
The only thing more frightening than an advancing glacier may be one that is shrinking and raising sea levels round the world


Both the north pole and the south pole are situated in the middle of huge ice deserts which are melting around the edges under the influence of human activity. The difference that matters between them is that the ice of the Arctic floats: if it melted nothing much would happen to aggregate sea levels. The ice of Antarctica, like that of Greenland, rests on land. If it all were to melt, as it has done in the far distant past, sea levels could rise by as much as 60 metres. That is most unlikely to happen. What is possible, though, is that the smaller portion of the continent, west Antarctica, which is divided from the rest by a mountain range, could lose much of its ice. Even that would be catastrophic. A significant retreat in west Antarctica, as seems to be already under way, could raise sea levels by between one and three metres by the end of this century. Children now alive will see that happen across their lifetimes. That is what is meant by the urgency of global warming.

Previous surveys have concentrated on a few of the glaciers that are an obvious danger but the research released this week analysed satellite data covering the whole of the coastline of west Antarctica to reach its worrying conclusions. The problem is worsened by the shape of the seabed on which the glaciers now rest. It does not slope towards the deep ocean, but inwards, forming a bowl of which the far side is the mountain range that divides the continent. That means that the process of erosion will be working downhill as it moves inwards, with faster and less predictable results.

The present danger was discovered by measuring the thickness of the ice sheet from space and deducing from this the shape of the glacier beneath. This is much easier than knowing what to do. The contrast between the exquisite technological sophistication employed in the diagnosis of the problem and the lack of international coordination or political sophistication when it comes to solving it, illustrates the crisis of technological civilisation. As a species we have shown enough cleverness to disrupt the world’s climate, but may not have enough to remedy the damage that we’ve done. Things are of course made very much worse by the presence in the White House of an aggressively ignorant and anti-scienceadministration.

Predicting the future of these changes isn’t an exact science, which is one of the things which makes them so frightening, but neither is it entirely guesswork. Ignorance about the size of the threatened rise in sea levels is no excuse for inaction. We know it’s coming. We know it will be disruptive. We don’t know if it will be catastrophic. But the possibility must spur us into drastic action on fossil fuels. Keep them in the ground.

April 6, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Concern over Russia’s nuclear activities in the Arctic – potential for a radiological disaster

With Russia building floating nuclear reactors and possibly testing nuclear-powered cruise missiles, there are good reasons for this training.The Drive, BY JOSEPH TREVITHICKMARCH 20, 2018   The U.S. military, along with other federal and state authorities, has been training to respond to potentially dangerous releases of radioactive material in and around the Arctic. Though there is no clear indication of a direct link between Russia’s reported tests of nuclear-powered missiles or expanding use of nuclear power in the region, it is hard not to see these exercises in connection with those developments.

Earlier in March 2018, members of the U.S. National Guards from 10 different states arrived at the Donnelly Training Area, situated near the U.S. Army’s Fort Greely in Alaska. Alaska state authorities and members of Canada’s reserve 39 Canadian Brigade Group joined the exercise, nicknamed Arctic Eagle 2018, as well.

The drills included a number of different mock crises, including an overturned fuel truck creating a hazardous material spill, the potential for attacks on the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System, and even cyber attacks. But especially notable was a scenario involving the need to locate a crashed satellite and contain the radiological material it had deposited across a wide area as it plummeted to earth. ………

t’s definitely no secret that the U.S. military has become increasing interested in preparing for potential conflicts and other contingencies above and near the Arctic Circle in recent years. As global climate change has shrunk the polar ice cap and otherwise reduced the amount of ice buildup that occurs during certain parts of the year, the region has become increasingly important economically and various countries, especially Russia, have moved to enforce their territorial claims.

“The growing concerns regarding the increased number of nations competing for Arctic resources are well justified,” U.S. Air Force General Lori Robinson, head of U.S. Northern Command, which oversees operations in the region, and the designated “Advocate for Arctic Capabilities” within the Pentagon, reiterated to members of Congress during a hearing in February 2018. “Diminishing sea ice provides opportunities for significantly expanded access to a region that had previously been inaccessible to all but a handful of northern nations.”

…….. the idea of a crashing satellite creating a radiological disaster isn’t an entirely fictional scenario. In 1978, the Soviet Union’s Kosmos 954 reconnaissance satellite, which had a nuclear reactor as its power source, crashed into Canadian territory, touching off an international incident and prompting an expensive response and clean-up operation.

….. U.S. military and other agencies practicing specifically to handle a radiological incident in the region seems even more noteworthy in light of a number of recent events. Most importantly are Russian claims that it has been testing a cruise missile with theoretically unlimited range that uses a nuclear reactor-powered propulsion system in the Arctic. Anonymous U.S. government officials have since told various media outlets that this is true, but that the weapons have been crashing, potentially spreading radioactive material and components.

…… The Russians have also been dramatically expanding their use and plans to employ small and mobile nuclear reactors to support activities in the Arctic.

….. In addition, there are reports that Russia has begun to develop and potentially deploy small underwater nuclear reactors

……..If any of these nuclear power systems were to fail, it could potentially cause a serious radiological incident that would impact both the United States and Canada. The same procedures American military and other government personnel have been training to employ in response to a crashed satellite would undoubtedly be applicable in those situations, too.

So, while the idea of radioactive space debris might serve as a ready exercise scenario, there are a growing number of very real radiological dangers in the Arctic. Unless the Russians change course, the need to be prepared for a nuclear incident only looks set to become more pronounced in the near future. http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19450/u-s-training-for-arctic-nuclear-satellite-disaster-amid-russian-weapons-developments Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, environment, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s underwater nuclear graveyard – a great place for fishing?

Russia’s Arctic nuclear dump may become promising fishing area https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2018/03/russias-arctic-nuclear-dump-may-become-promising-fishing-area

Thousands of containers with radioactive waste were dumped in the Kara Sea during Soviet times. Now, Russia’s Federal Agency for Fishing believes it’s a good idea to start fishing. By Thomas Nilsen March 15, 2018

“We shall present soon a program on development of promising fishing in the Kara Sea,” said Sergey Golovanov at the 5th international conference of fishing in the Arctic, organized in Murmansk this week. He is quoted by news agency TASS.

Golovanov is head of the Science and Education Department with the Federal Agency for Fisheries and has a background from PINDRO, the Marine research institute in Murmansk.

According to Gulovanov, the Kara Sea’s advantage for the fishing industry is that it is a shelf sea, it does not border any territorial waters of other nations. “This is why Russia can have own fishing regulations there,” he said according to TASS.

In 2013, a Norwegian-Russian joint study expedition to the dump-site of K-27 concluded that it is feasible to lift the ill-fated submarine from the seabed. Although dumped 30 years ago, the hull of the submarine is intact.

Several other areas of the Kara Sea were also visited by the science expedition.

Nuclear weapons testing

Additional to the nuclear waste dumped across the Kara Sea, the waters are also next to the Soviet Union’s largest testing area for nuclear weapons. At Novaya Zemlya, 79 nuclear- and hydrogen bombs where detonated in the atmosphere between 1955 and 1962. In the period from 1963 to 1990 another 35 warheads were tested in tunnels under ground. Today, most of Novaya Zemlya is closed off miitary area.

At the conference in Murmansk, nothing was said about the Kara Sea being the main dumping ground for nuclear waste during Soviet times. No other oceans worldwide have more dumped radioactive waste than Russia’s Arctic Kara Sea.

Here, there, everywhere

17 ships and barges loaded with radioactive waste are dumped here. So are 17,000 containers with radioactive waste. Even worse, along the east coast of Novaya Zemlya is 16 nuclear reactors dumped, six of them with spent uranium fuel still on board.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, both the military Northern Fleet and the civilian icebreakers stopped dumping waste at sea.

Entire nuclear sub dumped in 1982

On shallow waters in the Stepovogo Bay on the southeast coast of Novaya Zemlya, an entire nuclear-powered submarine, the K-27, was dumped in 1982.

The submarine had then been laid-up for more than 15 years after one of the two troublesome reactors suffered a severe leakage of radioactive gasses and inadequate cooling causing extensive fuel element failures.

Dumping the entire submarine at sea was done in what the Soviet reactor engineers and scientists believed would be a safe way to avoid leakages of radionuclides into the marine environment.

The two on board reactors are liquid-metal cooled and contain spent nuclear fuel, 800 kilograms of uranium to be precise.

Both Russian and Norwegian radiation experts have repeatedly warned that failing to lift the submarine eventually one day will cause leakages of radioactivity into the Kara Sea. A worst-case scenario has even pointed to the danger of an uncontrolled chain reaction that could be triggered inside the reactor in case sea water one day starts to leak in through the protecting cover that today isolates the compartment holding the two reactors.

In 2013, a Norwegian-Russian joint study expedition to the dump-site of K-27 concluded that it is feasible to lift the ill-fated submarine from the seabed. Although dumped 30 years ago, the hull of the submarine is intact.

Several other areas of the Kara Sea were also visited by the science expedition.

Nuclear weapons testing

Additional to the nuclear waste dumped across the Kara Sea, the waters are also next to the Soviet Union’s largest testing area for nuclear weapons. At Novaya Zemlya, 79 nuclear- and hydrogen bombs where detonated in the atmosphere between 1955 and 1962. In the period from 1963 to 1990 another 35 warheads were tested in tunnels under ground. Today, most of Novaya Zemlya is closed off miitary area.

March 17, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

British nuclear submarine joins American naval exercises under Arctic ice

Britain Sends Nuclear Sub Under Arctic Ice As Tensions With Russia Heat Up, Sputnik News, 16 Mar 18,     One British and two US nuclear submarines are taking part in a joint naval exercise currently underway in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish heavy torpedoes, the HMS Trenchant is the first British nuclear sub to be deployed under the Arctic ice in a decade.

It joined a pair of the US Navy’s fast attack submarines the USS Hartford and USS Connecticut, both of which surfaced in the Arctic Circle on March 10 as part of the multinational maritime Ice Exercise 2018……..https://sputniknews.com/military/201803161062602535-uk-submarine-arctic/

March 17, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change urgency: the Arctic is heating

Antarctic ice sheet loss and sea level rise Guardian[Excellent graphs]  1 March 2018 

dana1981 more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/mar/01/decisions-today-will-decide-antarctic-ice-sheet-loss-and-sea-level-rise

A new study looks at how much global sea level will continue to rise even if we manage to meet the Paris climate target of staying below 2°C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures. The issue is that sea levels keep rising for several hundred years after we stabilize temperatures, largely due to the continued melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland from the heat already in the climate system.

The study considered two scenarios. In the first, human carbon pollution peaks somewhere between 2020 and 2035 and falls quickly thereafter, reaching zero between 2035 and 2055 and staying there. Global temperatures in the first scenario peak at and remain steady below 2°C. In the second scenario, we capture and sequester carbon to reach net negative emissions (more captured than emitted) between 2040 and 2060, resulting in falling global temperatures in the second half of the century.

The authors found that global average sea level will most likely rise by about 1.3 meters by 2300 in the first scenario, and by 1 meter in the second. However, there is large uncertaintydue to how little we understand about the stability of the large ice sheets in Greenland and especially Antarctica. At the high end of possible ice sheet loss, we could see as much as 4.5 meters of sea level rise by 2300 in the first scenario, and close to 3 meters in the second scenario.

The study also shows that it’s critical that our carbon pollution peaks soon. Each 5-year delay – a peak in 2025 instead of 2020, for example – most likely adds 20 cm of sea level rise by 2300, and could potentially add a full meter due to the uncertainty associated with the large ice sheets:

we find that a delay of global peak emissions by 5 years in scenarios compatible with the Paris Agreement results in around 20 cm of additional median sea-level rise in 2300 … we estimate that each 5 years of delay bear the risk of an additional 1 m of sea-level rise by 2300 … Delayed near-term mitigation action in the next decades will leave a substantial legacy for long-term sea-level rise.

And remember, this is all for scenarios in which we meet the Paris climate targets, which we’re currently not on pace to achieve. If we miss the Paris targets, sea levels will rise higher yet.

Another new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that sea level rise has been accelerating. If the rate of acceleration continues – which the lead author notes is a conservative estimate – we would see an additional 65 cm (close to a meter above pre-industrial sea level) of sea level rise by 2100.

Yet another new study published in The Cryosphere using satellite data found that while the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has remained stable in recent years, ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has accelerated. Antarctica is now discharging 1.93 trillion tons of ice each year, up from about 1.89 trillion tons per year in 2008. When accounting for snow accumulation, the continent is losing about 183 billion tons of ice per year – enough to raise sea levels by about 3 to 5 millimeters per decade by itself. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is likewise accelerating and is now responsible for about 25% of annual sea level rise (8.5 millimeters per decade).

Meanwhile, the Arctic has been remarkably warm in February – as much as 35°C hotter than average in some areas. In mid-winter, when sea ice should be growing, in the Bering Sea it’s instead shrinking.

The hot Arctic is important because the temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main forces that keeps the jet stream moving steadily west-to-east. With a hot Arctic, the jet stream is weakened, leading to weird weather in the USA and Europe. As a result, the western states have been experiencing relatively quite cold temperatures, while the US east coast has been unseasonably hot.

To sum up, ice sheet melt is accelerating, as in turn is sea level rise. Even if we manage to achieve the Paris target of less than 2°C global warming above pre-industrial temperatures, we’re likely to eventually see more than a meter of sea level rise, and potentially several meters. The longer we take to reach peak carbon pollution in the coming years, the higher the oceans will rise. Disappearing sea ice in the rapidly-warming Arctic also appears to be causing increasingly weird and extreme weather in places like America and Europe.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Record warming in the Arctic

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises, Guardian,  Jonathan Watts, 28 Feb 18, Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station – Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south. Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average. Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny. Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool. As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass. According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

……… “This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises

February 28, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

North Pole could be headed for disappearance within a relatively short time

There could be just two years left before the North Pole disappears, news.com.au, Charles Firth, DECEMBER 7, 2016

RIGHT now it’s an unprecedented 22 degrees hotter than normal in the Arctic, and in just two years the North Pole could be completely gone.

“…….Santa is a fantasy but climate change is not, and it’s started to do truly alarming things to the North Pole.

Over the past few weeks the temperature of the North Pole has been 22 degrees hotter than the average temperature for this time of year. That’s not a typo. It’s not 2.2 degrees hotter. It’s 22 degrees Celsius hotter.

The reason it’s such a huge difference is because even though night is now falling, the temperature around the poles is still getting hotter rather than colder. That’s never happened before. What it means is that the gap between average temperature and this year’s temperature is getting wider and wider by the day……..

In salt water, minus five degrees (which is the current air temperature in the North Pole) is too warm for ice to form. That means the planet’s natural airconditioner (and sun reflector) is not regrowing back this winter. Two of the ways the earth keeps itself cool have just broken down……..

The ice caps melt because it’s getting warmer and then because the ice caps have melted, the earth gets even warmer even faster.

Peter Wadhams, a professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University, now reckons that it could be as little as two years before ice disappears completely from the North Pole during the summer months………

In addition to the environmental implications, the cultural implications of this are also huge.

We will need to start changing the stories that we tell ourselves and our children about what our planet looks like. The idea that ice was once at the North Pole will become folklore, much like the fabled North-West passage through the Arctic, which as recently as a decade ago was considered treacherous and impassable, but has now become a common route for ships and tourist boats in the summer months.

This is why I’m seriously considering taking the kids out of school next July, and taking them up to the North Pole to see the ice. It’s probably the last chance to see it. Fantasies of the North Pole are such a vivid part of my own childhood. When was a kid, I always assumed I’d go there one day. Now I know my children will not.

If I do take my kids to see the North Pole and they live long lives, they’ll end be some of the last people on earth to be able to attest that there was indeed, ice at the top of our planet……..http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/there-could-be-just-two-years-left-before-the-north-pole-disappears/news-story/80111828cd33bdb2b24ca0540013a70e

February 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Exceptional warmth in the Arctic

It will be warmer at the North Pole next week than much of Europe, as sea ice melts, Mashable, BY ANDREW FREEDMAN   26 Feb 18 In what seems to be becoming an annual occurrence, temperatures at the North Pole are about to reach or possibly exceed the freezing point this week as the North Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans inject unusually mild air into the Arctic.

 Not coincidentally, Arctic sea ice is at record low levels, with a freak disappearance of ice off the western coast of Alaska, between Alaska and Russia. This vanishing of sea ice in the Bering Sea is exposing coastal communities in Alaska to storm surge flooding from typically fierce winter storms, particularly Little Diomede Island. ……..

In Europe, winds known as “The Beast from the East” will transport frigid temperatures from Russia and Scandinavia to the west, into Germany, France, and the UK, along with potential snowfall.

 In part, this is because of a split in the polar vortex — that much hyped circulation of air at upper levels of the atmosphere that keeps the coldest air penned in across the Far North. One “sister vortex” has set up across Canada and the Western U.S., with another established in Eurasia. Many of these areas are colder than the Arctic is right now.

Consider some of these startling statistics. Arctic sea ice is at its lowest observed level since the satellite era began in 1979. The magnitude and pace of the sea ice decline observed during the 21st century, along with the warming of the ocean surface throughout the region, has been shown to be unprecedented in the last 1,500 years.

 In the Bering Sea in particular, sea ice has been at record low levels for much of the fall and winter. As if spooked by a ghost, much of the ice that had been covering the region vanished during February, a time when it would normally be at its peak extent and thickness.

Temperatures in parts of the Arctic — including the North Pole — could rise to 45 degrees Fahrenheit above average this week. Already, the northernmost land-based weather station in Greenland, known as Cape Morris Jesup, rose above the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius, five times since Feb. 16. That weather station is just about 400 miles from the North Pole.

 Previously, temperatures had only exceeded the freezing point at this weather station for brief periods during February in 2011 and 2017. So far this February, temperatures exceeded 32 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21, a warm streak that is incredibly rare.

At the same time as the Arctic heats up (relatively speaking), temperatures will plunge to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit below average across nearly all of Europe, from Moscow to London. ………

study published in Nature about a 2015 sudden polar warming event found that these events are growing more intense, meaning that the temperature extremes are getting more extreme, especially when compared to the overall rate of Arctic warming.

 Scientists studying the Arctic climate have sounded the loudest alarms about how quickly humans are altering the climate. This winter, coupled with some of the extreme warming events during the past few winter seasons, is driving that point home even further. https://mashable.com/2018/02/22/north-pole-temperatures-above-freezing-europe-deep-freeze/#zAsltrHx8Oq3

February 26, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment