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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

USA jet -with 4 nuclear bombs on board – crashed in Greenland 50 years ago

50 years ago, a US military jet crashed in Greenland – with 4 nuclear bombs on board   The Conversation, Timothy J. Jorgensen
Director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program and Associate Professor of Radiation Medicine, Georgetown University  January 18, 2018     
Fifty years ago, on Jan. 21, 1968, the Cold War grew significantly colder. It was on this day that an American B-52G Stratofortress bomber, carrying four nuclear bombs, crashed onto the sea ice of Wolstenholme Fjord in the northwest corner of Greenland, one of the coldest places on Earth. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Danes were not pleased.
The bomber – call sign HOBO 28 – had crashed due to human error……
 The Thule crash revealed that the United States had actually been routinely flying planes carrying nuclear bombs over Greenland, and one of those illicit flights had now resulted in the radioactive contamination of a fjord.

The radioactivity was released because the nuclear warheads had been compromised. The impact from the crash and the subsequent fire had broken open the weapons and released their radioactive contents, but luckily, there was no nuclear detonation.

To be specific, HOBO 28’s nuclear weapons were actually hydrogen bombs. As I explain in my book, “Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation,” a hydrogen bomb (or H-bomb) is a second-generation type of nuclear weapon that is much more powerful than the two atomic bombsdropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two bombs were “fission” bombs – bombs that get their energy from the splitting (fission) of very large atoms (such as uranium and plutonium) into smaller atoms.

In contrast, HOBO 28’s bombs were fusion bombs – bombs that get their energy from the union (fusion) of the very small nuclei of hydrogen atoms. Each of the four Mark 28 F1 hydrogen bombs that HOBO 28 carried were nearly 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima (1,400 kilotons versus 15 kilotons).

Fusion bombs release so much more energy than fission bombs that it’s hard to comprehend. For example, if a fission bomb like Hiroshima’s were dropped on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., it’s likely that the White House (about 1.5 miles away) would suffer little direct damage. In contrast, if just one of the Mark 28 F1 hydrogen bombs were dropped on the Capitol building, it would destroy the White House as well as everything else in Washington, D.C. (a destructive radius of about 7.5 miles). It is for this reason that North Korea’s recent claim of achieving hydrogen bomb capabilities is so very worrisome.

Nuclear Explosion Power Comparison

After the crash, the United States and Denmark had very different ideas about how to deal with HOBO 28’s wreckage and radioactivity. The U.S. wanted to just let the bomber wreckage sink into the fjord and remain there, but Denmark wouldn’t allow that. Denmark wanted all the wreckage gathered up immediately and moved, along with all of the radioactively contaminated ice, to the United States. Since the fate of the Thule Air Base hung in the balance, the U.S. agreed to Denmark’s demands……… https://theconversation.com/50-years-ago-a-us-military-jet-crashed-in-greenland-with-4-nuclear-bombs-on-board-87155

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January 19, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, history, incidents, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactivity of the Arctic ocean increasing due to global warming

Global Warming Is Increasing The Radioactivity Of The Arctic Ocean, IFL Science, Stephen Lundtz, 3 Jan 18 “………what is happening in the polar regions may ultimately be much more important [than the Fukushima radiation] . As Lauren Kipp of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution notes in Science Advances, climate change affects the Arctic region particularly strongly through the “Permafrost thawing on land and on continental shelves, increased river discharge, and reduced ice cover.” The last of these has been extensively tracked, but it is harder to measure the first two. Marine measurements of materials deposited in the ocean from permafrost melt and river discharge could change that.

Sediments on the continental shelves that make up half the Arctic Ocean’s territory contain thorium isotopes, which radioactively decay to radium. “Unlike thorium, radium is relatively soluble in seawater,” the paper notes, so measuring radium concentrations makes it possible to explore the interchange between the sediments and the waters above. In particular, it can provide a measure of the rate at which permafrost melting is releasing soluble materials into the ocean, a process enhanced as higher winds transport more water from coastal waters to the central Arctic.

Unfortunately, systematic records of radium concentrations in the Arctic prior to 2015 don’t exist. However, localized measurements taken in 1994, 2002, and 2007 allowed Kipp to conclude that radium-228 has risen sharply over the 2007-2015 period, and most of this increase must come from sediments at the continental margin.

The permafrost that was previously preventing the incorporation of sedimentary radium into the ocean contains something far more dangerous than tiny quantities of the radioactive element – methane, which would greatly amplify warming. more http://www.iflscience.com/environment/global-warming-is-increasing-the-radioactivity-of-the-arctic-ocean/

January 12, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

The Arctic is melting with no turning back

Climate Change Is Already Wreaking Havoc on Our Weather, Scientists Find, http://time.com/5064577/climate-change-arctic/  By JUSTIN WORLAND   The Arctic is melting with no turning back. Climate change increased rainfall during Hurricane Harvey by at least 15%. And several extreme weather events that occurred in 2016 would not have been possible without man-made global warming.

These are among the findings being discussed this week at this fall’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans, the largest gathering of Earth scientists in the world. Taken together, the findings show the deepening urgency of the fight against climate change.

“Climate change is hurting us without a doubt,” said James Byrne, a professor at the University of Lethbridge who studies climate change, at a press conference. “Houston, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, British Columbia — worst fire season ever. California, I think they declared it the worst fire season.”

Scientists have explored the link between climate change and extreme weather events for years, but many of the conclusions have relied on forecasts of potential future damage. This year, scientists say, the findings are no longer theoretical. Man-made global warming is causing problems here and now.

Take the American Meteorological Society’s report on extreme weather events in 2016, the sixth annual iteration of the report. In the past, the group found that likelihood had increased the chances of certain extreme weather events. But this year scientists found that 2016’s record global temperatures and historic warm waters in the Bering Sea “would not have been possible” in a world without human-caused climate change.

“These events were not just influenced by human-caused climate change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld of the American Meteorological Society at a press conference. “Some of the events in 2016 could not have happened without climate change.”

The report also highlighted global heat waves, an extreme occurence of El Niño and bleaching of coral reefs. These extreme events are all closely tied to climate change, though they remain theoretically possible in a world without the phenomenon.

Another report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the state of continued ice melt, loss of snow cover and warm temperatures will be the “new normal” in the Arctic. The signs of climate change in the region have been pronounced for years as air temperatures have risen there at twice the rate as they have globally.

The effects of a melting Arctic — and the strong likelihood that it will not return to a normal state anytime soon — has significant implications far beyond its boundaries. Arctic sea ice plays an important role moderating global temperatures as it reflects sunlight back into space. And scientists say that the swift warming in the Arctic is a concerning sign of what’s to come globally. “Unlike Vegas what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” said Tim Gallaudet, acting NOAA administrator, at a press conference. “It affects the rest of the planet.”

Two separate studies presented at the conference showed that climate change worsened rainfall when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston earlier by somewhere between 15% and 38%. That storm brought nearly 50 inches of rain to some areas and caused billions in damages. The research comes as scientists increasingly try to draw explicit conclusions about the effect of climate change and individual storms, a practice unthinkable just a decade ago.

The warning from scientists comes as policymakers across the globe continue to grapple how to stem temperature rise. Countries have committed to trying to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, but recent research shows leaders remain far from meeting that goal.

December 16, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Sunlight and the right microbes convert Arctic carbon into carbon dioxide

 http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/52773  From: Oregon State University , 5 Oct 17Nearly half of the organic carbon stored in soil around the world is contained in Arctic permafrost, which has experienced rapid melting, and that organic material could be converted to greenhouse gases that would exacerbate global warming.

When permafrost thaws, microbial consumption of those carbon reserves produces carbon dioxide – much of which eventually winds up in the atmosphere, but scientists have been unsure of just how the system works.

A new study published this week in Nature Communications outlines the mechanisms and points to the importance of both sunlight and the right microbial community as keys to converting permafrost carbon to CO2. The research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

“We’ve long known that microbes convert the carbon into CO2, but previous attempts to replicate the Arctic system in laboratory settings have failed,” noted Byron Crump, an Oregon State University biogeochemist and co-author on the study. “As it turns out, that is because the laboratory experiments did not include a very important element – sunlight.

Read more at Oregon State University

October 9, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Melting Arctic ice cap

Melting Arctic ice cap falls to well below average This summer’s minimum is the eighth lowest on record
Shrinking ice cap increasingly linked to extreme weather events around the world, say scientists,
Guardian, Damian Carrington , 20 Sept 17, The Arctic ice cap melted to hundreds of thousands of square miles below average this summer, according to data released late on Tuesday.

Climate change is pushing temperatures up most rapidly in the polar regions and left the extent of Arctic sea ice at 1.79m sq miles at the end of the summer melt season.

This is the time when it reaches its lowest area for the year, before starting to grow again as winter approaches. The 2017 minimum was 610,000 sqmiles below the 1981-2010 average and the eighth lowest year in the 38-year satellite record……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/20/melting-arctic-ice-cap-falls-to-well-below-average

September 22, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Global effects of rapid thaw of Greenland’s permafrost

Greenland: How rapid climate change on world’s largest island will affect us all The ice sheet is melting and permafrost is thawing. What’s happening in Greenland will speed up climate change across the world, The Independent, 7 Sept 17, Kathryn Adamson 

 The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but because it is yet another sign of deep environmental change in the Arctic.

Greenland is an important cog in the global climate system. The ice sheet, which covers 80 per cent of the island, reflects so much of the sun’s energy back into space that it moderates temperatures through what is known as the “albedo effect”. And since it occupies a strategic position in the North Atlantic, its meltwater tempers ocean circulation patterns.

But Greenland is especially vulnerable to climate change, as Arctic air temperatures are currently rising at twice the global average rate. Environmental conditions are frequently setting new records: “the warmest”, “the wettest”, “the driest”.

Despite its size, the fire itself represents only a snapshot of Greenland’s fire history. It alone cannot tell us about wider Arctic climate change.

But when we superimpose these extraordinary events onto longer-term environmental records, we can see important trends emerging.

The ice sheet is melting

Between 2002 and 2016 the ice sheet lost mass at a rate of around 269 gigatonnes per year. One gigatonne is one billion tonnes. One tonne is about the weight of a walrus.

During the same period, the ice sheet also showed some unusual short-term behaviour. The 2012 melt season was especially intense – 97 per cent of the ice sheet experienced surface melt at some point during the year. Snow even melted at its summit, the highest point in the centre of the island where the ice is piled up more than 3km above sea level………

In Greenland, like much of the Arctic, rising temperatures are thawing the permafrost. This means the active layer is growing by up to 1.5cm per year. This trend is expected to continue, seeing as under current IPCC predictions, Arctic air temperatures will rise by between 2.0°C and 7.5°C this century.

Arctic permafrost contains more than 1,500 billion tonnes of dead plants and animals (around 1,500 billion walrus equivalent) which we call “organic matter”. Right now, this stuff has been frozen for thousands of years. But when the permafrost thaws this organic matter will decay, releasing carbon and methane (another greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.

If thawing continues, it’s estimated that by 2100 permafrost will emit 850-1,400 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (for comparison: total global emissions in 2012 was 54 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent). All that extra methane and carbon, of course, has  the potential to enhance global warming even further……..http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/greenland-how-rapid-climate-change-on-worlds-largest-island-will-affect-us-all-a7926006.html

September 9, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change threat: ALASKA’S PERMAFROST IS THAWING

ALASKA’S PERMAFROST IS THAWING, Alaska’s permafrost, shown here in 2010 [on original] , is no longer permanent. It is starting to thaw. The loss of frozen ground in Arctic regions is a striking result of climate change. And it is also a cause of more warming to come.  By 2050, much of this frozen ground, a storehouse of ancient carbon, could be gone. NYT, AUG. 23, 2017 YUKON DELTA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska — The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

For the first time, tanker crosses Arctic without icebreaker

http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/25/news/arctic-ice-tanker-ship/index.html?sr=twCNN082517arctic-ice-tanker-ship0141PMStory,   @CNNMoney, August 25, 2017:

Climate change is helping create new opportunities for shipping companies by melting the ice around the North Pole.

A Russian tanker carrying natural gas has become the first merchant ship to sail across the Arctic without the help of an icebreaker, finishing the journey in record time.

The ship, the Christophe de Margerie, traveled from Norway to South Korea in 19 days, about 30% quicker than the regular route through the Suez Canal, its Russian owner, Sovcomflot, said this week.

Every year, arctic ice naturally shrinks in the spring and summer before growing again during winter. But as global temperatures have risen, the old sea ice that lasts year after year has shrunk to its smallest level in three decades.

Thinner, younger sea ice — less than a year old — has become the majority across the Arctic. Young ice struggles to reach a thickness of 2 meters (6½ feet) during winter months and then is more likely to melt during the summer.

Related: Watch as old sea ice vanishes

It’s a huge concern. According to NASA, many global climate models predict that the Arctic will be ice-free for at least part of the year before the end of the 21st century. Some models predict an ice-free Arctic by midcentury. That would have a direct impact on weather patterns around the world.

The thinning ice also opens new paths for global trade, saving companies hundreds of thousands of dollars they would spend on longer journeys via more southerly routes.

“This is the paradox of climate change,” said Ben Ayliffe, a campaigner for Greenpeace. “The fossil fuels we’re burning are allowing access into areas that were previously protected by ice.” He expressed concern that increasing sea traffic in the inhospitable environment will bring new risks, such as a fuel spill that would be virtually impossible to clean up.

Shipping tankers making their way across the top of the world typically need to be accompaniedby massive, nuclear-powered Russian icebreakers to plow through patches of six-foot-thick ice.

But the Christophe de Margerie, named for a former CEO of French oil giant Total, is specially designed to sail independently through ice as thick as 2.1 meters (nearly 7 feet), its owner said.

That means it should be able to operate in the harsh Arctic waters year round rather than just the summer months.

Its recent journey ferrying liquified natural gas more than 2,000 nautical miles through ice as thick as 1.2 meters (4 feet) “demonstrates the economic potential of using the Northern Sea Route for large-capacity vessel transits,” Sovcomflot said.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Greenland’s melting ice will affect us all

Greenland: how rapid climate change on world’s largest island will affect us alhttps://theconversation.com/greenland-how-rapid-climate-change-on-worlds-largest-island-will-affect-us-all-82675   Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University August 18, 2017 The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic.
Greenland is an important cog in the global climate system. The ice sheet which covers 80% of the island reflects so much of the sun’s energy back into space that it moderates temperatures through what is known as the “albedo effect”. And since it occupies a strategic position in the North Atlantic, its meltwater tempers ocean circulation patterns.
But Greenland is especially vulnerable to climate change, as Arctic air temperatures are currently rising at twice the global average rate. Environmental conditions are frequently setting new records: “the warmest”, “the wettest”, “the driest”.

Despite its size, the fire itself represents only a snapshot of Greenland’s fire history. It alone cannot tell us about wider Arctic climate change.

But when we superimpose these extraordinary events onto longer-term environmental records, we can see important trends emerging.

The ice sheet is melting

Between 2002 and 2016 the ice sheet lost mass at a rate of around 269 gigatonnes per year. One gigatonne is one billion tonnes. One tonne is about the weight of a walrus. During the same period, the ice sheet also showed some unusual short-term behaviour. The 2012 melt season was especially intense – 97% of the ice sheet experienced surface melt at some point during the year. Snow even melted at its summit, the highest point in the centre of the island where the ice is piled up more than 3km above sea level.

In April 2016 Greenland saw abnormally high temperatures and its earliest ever “melt event” (a day in which more than 10% of the ice sheet has at least 1mm of surface melt). Early melting doesn’t usher in a period of complete and catastrophic change – the ice won’t vanish overnight. But it does illustrate how profoundly and rapidly the ice sheet can respond to rising temperatures.

Permafrost is thawing

Despite its icy image, the margins of Greenland are actually quite boggy, complete with swarms of mosquitoes. This is the “active layer”, made up of peaty soil and sediment up to two metres thick, which temporarily thaws during the summer. The underlying permafrost, which can reach depths of 100m, remains permanently frozen.

In Greenland, like much of the Arctic, rising temperatures are thawing the permafrost. This means the active layer is growing by up to 1.5cm per year. This trend is expected to continue, seeing as under current IPCC predictions, Arctic air temperatures will rise by between 2.0°C and 7.5°Cthis century.

Arctic permafrost contains more than 1,500 billion tonnes of dead plants and animals (around 1,500 billion walrus equivalent) which we call “organic matter”. Right now, this stuff has been frozen for thousands of years. But when the permafrost thaws this organic matter will decay, releasing carbon and methane (another greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.

If thawing continues, it’s estimated that by 2100 permafrost will emit 850-1,400 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (for comparison: total global emissions in 2012 was 54 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent). All that extra methane and carbon of course has the potential to enhance global warming even further.

With this in mind, it is clear to see why the recent wildfire, which was burning in dried-out peat in the active layer, was especially interesting to researchers. If Greenland’s permafrost becomes increasingly degraded and dry, there is the potential for even bigger wildfires which would release vast stores of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Species are adapting to a changing ecosystem

Major changes in the physical environment are already affecting the species that call Greenland home.  Just look at polar bears, the face of Arctic climate change. Unlike other bears, polar bears spend most of their time at sea, which explains their Latin name Ursus maritimus. In particular they rely on sea ice as it gives them a deep-water platform from which to hunt seals.

However, since 1979 the extent of sea ice has decreased by around 7.4% per decade due to climate warming, and bears have had to adjust their habitat use. With continued temperature rise and sea ice disappearance, it’s predicted that populations will decline by up to 30% in the next few decades, taking the total number of polar bears to under 9,000.

I have considered only a handful of the major environmental shifts in Greenland over the past few decades, but the effects of increasing temperatures are being felt in all parts of the earth system. Sometimes these are manifest as extreme events, at others as slow and insidious changes.

The different parts of the environmental jigsaw interact, so that changes in one part (sea ice decline, say) influence another (polar bear populations). We need to keep a close eye on the system as a whole if we are to make reliable interpretations – and meaningful plans for the future.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | 3 Comments

Extraordinarily high temperatures in 2016 in Arctic, Greenland and Alaska

The crazy climate records from 2016 you haven’t heard much about http://reneweconomy.com.au/crazy-climate-records-2016-havent-heard-much-12340/ [good graphics] By Andrea Thompson on 11 August 2017 Climate Central

By now, we’ve all heard that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and that heat-trapping greenhouse gases hit their highest concentration ever, surpassing 400 parts per million for the first time in nearly 1 million years. But there are other climate change-related records that have flown more under the radar. Several of those records were highlighted Thursday in the annual State of the Climate report, released in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society:

For example, during August, ice-free areas of the Barents Sea (north of Norway and Russia) were up to 20°F (11°C) above average, a figure that stunned climate scientists.

 The Chukchi Sea off Alaska and the waters to the west of Greenland were 13°F to 14°F above average. Those warm waters were linked to the smallest annual winter peak in sea ice levels and the second lowest annual minimum.

The average land surface temperature for the Arctic was 3.6°F (2.0°C) above the 1981-2010 average — a 6.3°F (3.5°C) rise in temperatures since 1900. Record-high temperatures were measured below the surface of the permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, across the North Slope of Alaska.

“2016 was a year in the Arctic like we’ve never seen before,” Jeremy Mathis, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic research program and an author of the report, said.

The rate of warming in the Arctic, which is happening at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, has major impacts on local ecosystems, but also further drives the warming of the planet, as the sea ice that would reflect the sun’s rays back to space is lost.

And for the 37th consecutive year, alpine glaciers retreated across the globe. These glaciers are a major source of water for local communities, and their loss has led to concerns about water security, particularly in places like Southeast Asia.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change action subverted by Norway’s search for oil and gas in the Arctic

Guardian 10th Aug 2017, Norway’s plan to ramp up oil and gas production in the Arctic threatens
global efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new study.

The research says 12 gigatonnes of carbon could be added by exploration sites
in the Barents Sea and elsewhere over the next 50 years, which is 1.5 times
more than the Norwegian fields currently being tapped or under
construction.

The authors of the report from Oil Change International – an
NGO backed by Friends of the Earth, WWF and Greenpeace – say this
undermines the 2015 Paris agreement to cut worldwide emissions in order to
keep the planet’s temperature rise to between 1.5C and 2C.

The report highlights the “cognitive dissonance” between Norway’s progressive domestic
measures to comply with the Paris agreement on emissions cuts and its role
as Europe’s biggest exporter of fossil fuels.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/10/norways-push-for-arctic-oil-and-gas-threatens-paris-climate-goals-study

August 12, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Melting permafrost is contributing to unusual wildfires in Greenland

‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat, BBC News, 9 August 2017
New images have been released of wildfires that continue to burn close to the Greenland ice sheet, on the country’s west coast.Fires are rare on an island where 80% of the land is covered by ice up to 3km thick in places.

However, satellites have observed smoke and flames north-east of a town called Sisimiut since 31 July.

Experts believe at least two fires are burning in peat that may have dried out as temperatures have risen.

A song of fire and ice?  Researchers say that across Greenland there is now less surface water than in the past, which could be making vegetation more susceptible to fire. The latest satellite images show a number of plumes. Police have warned hikers and tourists to stay away from the region because of the dangers posed by smoke. There are also concerns that the fire will damage grazing for reindeer.

Scientists believe that instead of shrubs or mosses, the likely source is fire in the peaty soil, which can only burn when dry.

“Usually when a wildfire is smouldering like that it’s because there’s a lot of ground-level fuel, carbon organic matter; that’s why I assume that it’s peat,” wildfire expert Prof Jessica McCarty from Miami University, US, told BBC News.

“The fire line is not moving, the fire is not progressing like we’d see in a forest fire, so that means it’s burning whatever fuel is on the ground.”

Prof McCarthy believes that melting permafrost is likely to have contributed to this outbreak. She referred to studies carried out in the region that showed degraded permafrost around the town of Sisimiut.

Locals say that what they call “soil fires” have happened before, especially in the last 20-30 years. Researchers have been busily examining the satellite record to look for evidence of previous outbreaks.

“The only record I found is the MODIS active fire record. It’s a satellite that measures the temperature of the surface and can locate hotspots from fire,” said Dr Stef Lhermitte from Delft University in the Netherlands.

“I think that fires have been there before but what’s different is that this fire is big, in Greenlandic terms; that is unusual. It’s the biggest one we have in the satellite record.”

Dr Lhermitte’s analysis suggest that the satellite has detected more fires in 2017 alone in Greenland than in the 15 years it has been operating. A previous large outbreak was seen in 2015…….http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40877099

August 11, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

NASA monitors Arctic sea ice loss

Sea levels, which were more or less constant for the past 2,000 years, have climbed at a rate of roughly 1.7mm a year in the past century; in the past 25 years, that rate has doubled to 3.4mm a year, already enough to create adverse effects in coastal areas. A conservative estimate holds that waters will rise roughly 0.9 metres (3ft) by the year 2100, which will place hundreds of millions of people in jeopardy.

even as we passed through this landscape, even as the lasers and radars took their deep gulps of data from the ice, I could hear expressions of anxiety from the data hunters. “At the same time that we’re getting better at gathering this data, we seem to be losing the ability to communicate its importance to the public,” one engineer told me four hours into a flight, during a transit between glaciers

Where global warming gets real: inside Nasa’s mission to the north pole For 10 years, Nasa has been flying over the ice caps to chart their retreat. This data is an invaluable record of climate change. But does anyone care? By Avi Steinberg, Guardian, 27 July 17 

From the window of a Nasa aircraft flying over the Arctic, looking down on the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, it’s easy to see why it is so hard to describe climate change. The scale of polar ice, so dramatic and so clear from a plane flying at 450 metres (1,500ft) – high enough to appreciate the scope of the ice and low enough to sense its mass – is nearly impossible to fathom when you aren’t sitting at that particular vantage point.

But it’s different when you are there, cruising over the ice for hours, with Nasa’s monitors all over the cabin streaming data output, documenting in real time – dramatising, in a sense – the depth of the ice beneath. You get it, because you can see it all there in front of you, in three dimensions…..

The crew of Nasa’s Operation IceBridge have seen this ice from every imaginable angle. IceBridge is an aerial survey of the polar regions that has been underway for nearly a decade – the most ambitious of its kind to date. It has yielded a growing dataset that helps researchers document, among other things, how much, and at what rate, ice is disappearing from the poles, contributing to global sea-level rises, and to a variety of other phenomena related to climate change.

Alternating seasonally between the north and south poles, Operation Icebridge mounts months-long campaigns in which it operates eight- to 12-hour daily flights, as often as weather permits…….

On each flight, I witnessed a remarkable tableau. Even as Arctic glaciers were losing mass right below the speeding plane, and even as raw data gleaned directly from those glaciers was pouring in on their monitors, the Nasa engineers sat next to their fact-recording instruments, sighing and wondering aloud if Americans had lost the eyes to see what they were seeing, to see the facts. What they told me revealed something about what it means to be a US federally funded climate researcher in 2017 – and what they didn’t, or couldn’t, tell me revealed even more……

Each of the 63 flight plans for this season in the Arctic was the result of months of meticulous planning. A team of polar scientists from across the US sets the research priorities, in collaboration with flight crews, who make sure the routes are feasible; the mission is managed from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland……

Sea levels, which were more or less constant for the past 2,000 years, have climbed at a rate of roughly 1.7mm a year in the past century; in the past 25 years, that rate has doubled to 3.4mm a year, already enough to create adverse effects in coastal areas. A conservative estimate holds that waters will rise roughly 0.9 metres (3ft) by the year 2100, which will place hundreds of millions of people in jeopardy.

Given the scale of sea- and ice-related questions, the vantage point that is needed is from the air and from space, and is best served through large, continuous, state-supported investments: hence Nasa. There is a lot we don’t know and a lot that the ice itself, which is a frozen archive of past climate changes, can tell us. But we need the eyes to see it……

polar snow and ice, precisely because it is white, with a quality known as high albedo, deflects solar energy back into space and helps keep earth’s climate cool; the loss of all this white material means more heat is absorbed and the earth warms faster. In a variety of other ways, including moderating weather patterns, the ice helps makes life on earth more livable. The extreme conditions of the poles, so useful for instilling fear in 19th-century readers, actually make the world more habitable……

even as we passed through this landscape, even as the lasers and radars took their deep gulps of data from the ice, I could hear expressions of anxiety from the data hunters. “At the same time that we’re getting better at gathering this data, we seem to be losing the ability to communicate its importance to the public,” one engineer told me four hours into a flight, during a transit between glaciers…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/27/watching-ice-melt-inside-nasas-mission-to-the-north-pole

July 28, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Greenland ice sheet might start to melt “faster and faster”

Independent 25th July 2017, Scientists are “very worried” that the Greenland ice sheet might start to
melt “faster and faster”, a leading scientist has said. The problem is that
the warmer weather is allowing more dark algae to grow on the ice. Because
ice is white, it reflects much of the sun’s energy, but dark algae absorb
the heat, increasing the rate of melting. The Greenland ice sheet is up to
3km thick and would raise sea levels by seven metres if it all melted into
the sea. The current rate of melting is adding about 1mm a year to the
global average sea level.  http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-scientists-greenland-ice-sheet-melt-faster-worried-algae-a7858876.html

July 28, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Continuing loss of Arctic sea ice

Here’s how much Arctic sea ice has melted since the ‘80s, REneweconomy, By Andrea Thompson on 24 July 2017  Climate Central

Arctic sea ice has been melting at a steady clip this summer as it heads toward its annual low point. But a new chart shows that with nearly two months still left in the melt season, sea ice area is already below what would have been a yearly low in the 1980s.

The comparison shows the clear long-term decline of Arctic sea ice fueled by the global rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The dramatic shrinkage of sea ice over the past few decades is driving major changes, from the loss of crucial Arctic habitat to the potential influence of weather patterns around the world……http://reneweconomy.com.au/heres-much-arctic-sea-ice-melted-since-80s-55828/

July 26, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment