Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Arctic Regions

A Trove of Old Photos Could Reveal the Future of These Arctic Glaciers

A Trove of Old Photos Could Reveal the Future of These Arctic Glaciers

Technology, World
The mammoth, ethereally beautiful glaciers of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, near the North Pole, bear the scars of climate change more than almost anywhere else on the planet.Over the past three decades, Svalbard has warmed twice as quickly as the rest of the Arctic region and seven times the global average. That is causing the islands’ glaciers to melt at an alarming rate, threatening polar bears and other wildlife, and adding to rising sea levels around the globe.For a long time, though, predicting how quickly future warming might cause the ice to retreat took guesswork. In Svalbard and other places, most field measurements started only in the mid-20th century, and satellite observations even later.Now, advances in computing are helping scientists bring old ice back to life in a...
Alaska Town Records 67 Degree Temperature, a December Record

Alaska Town Records 67 Degree Temperature, a December Record

Technology, World
In a holiday season of extreme weather events, this one stands out: a 67-degree Fahrenheit reading in Alaska the day after Christmas.The reading on Sunday, from a tidal station on Kodiak Island, set a statewide temperature record for December, the National Weather Service reported.The temperature at the station, in southern Alaska, reached the 60s again on Monday before falling to 55 degrees on Tuesday morning, Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy in Fairbanks, said on Twitter.“In late December,” he added. “I would not have thought such a thing possible.”It wasn’t the only weather record to fall this month in towns along the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. A 56-degree day on Dec. 25 in the town of Unalaska, Alaska, appeared to be the...
How to Catch a Polar Bear

How to Catch a Polar Bear

Technology
From a helicopter, it can be hard to spot a polar bear against the frozen tundra. So when the polar bear biologist Jon Aars heads out for his annual research trips, he scans the landscape for flashes of movement or subtle variations in color — the slightly yellowish hue of the bears’ fur set off against the white snow.“Also, very often, you see the footprints before you see the bear,” Dr. Aars said. “And the bear is usually where the footprints stop.”Dr. Aars is one in a long line of polar bear researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute, which has an outpost on Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago. Since 1987, the institute’s scientists have staged annual field trips into the icy wilderness to find and study Svalbard’s polar bears.Over the decades, these research trips have shed light on the ...
Trends in Arctic Report Card: ‘Consistent, Alarming and Undeniable’

Trends in Arctic Report Card: ‘Consistent, Alarming and Undeniable’

Technology, World
Across the icy dome that crowns the Earth, rising temperatures are turning the tundra greener and more lush. Beavers are expanding their range. Garbage from passing ships is fouling the shores. Wildfires are scorching the once permanently frozen lands of Siberia.Such is the picture that scientists painted in their latest assessment of the Arctic, which is heating up more than twice as quickly as the rest of the globe. This warming has propelled a variety of disruptions that make the polar region a potential harbinger for what people at lower latitudes might someday experience as a result of human-induced climate change.“The vulnerabilities in the Arctic are more noticeable,” said Matthew L. Druckenmiller of the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, who was an ...

Killer Whales Find Prey Bonanza in Melting Arctic

Technology
Brynn Kimber, a research scientist at the University of Washington who works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Laboratory, has spent a lot of time analyzing audio data recorded in the icy waters north of Alaska, Canada and Russia. Typically, Ms. Kimber hears the chatter of bowhead whales, belugas, narwhals and other cetaceans native to that part of the Arctic.A few years ago, they started hearing a distinctive cry acousticians describe as similar to that of a disgruntled house cat: The piercing call of a killer whale. Ms. Kimber wondered at first if their ears were deceiving them.“When I started the job my mentor told me, ‘You won’t see killer whales this far north,’” Ms. Kimber said. But as years of data accumulated, along with more orca calls in areas...
The Arctic Ocean Was Invaded by Its Neighbor Earlier Than Anyone Thought

The Arctic Ocean Was Invaded by Its Neighbor Earlier Than Anyone Thought

Technology, World
Arctic. Atlantic. Long ago, the two oceans existed in harmony, with warm and salty Atlantic waters gently flowing into the Arctic. The layered nature of the Arctic — sea ice on top, cool freshwater in the middle and warm, salty water at the bottom — helped hold the boundary between the polar ocean and the warmer Atlantic.But everything changed when the larger ocean began flowing faster than the polar ocean could accommodate, weakening the distinction between the layers and transforming Arctic waters into something closer to the Atlantic. This process, called Atlantification, is part of the reason the Arctic is warming faster than any other ocean.“It’s not a new invasion of the Arctic,” said Yueng-Djern Lenn, a physical oceanographer at Bangor University in Wales. “What’s new is that the pr...

As Earth Warms, Human History Is Melting Away

Technology
To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.For the past few centuries, the Yup’ik peoples of Alaska have told gruesome tales of a massacre that occurred during the Bow and Arrow War Days, a series of long and often brutal battles across the Bering Sea coast and the Yukon. According to one account, the carnage started when one village sent a war party to raid another. But the residents had been tipped off and set an ambush, wiping out the marauders. The victors then attacked the undefended town, torching it and slaughtering its inhabitants. No one was spared.For the last 12 years, Rick Knecht has led an excavation at a site called Nunalleq, about 400 miles west of Anchorage. “When we began, the hope was to learn something about ...

On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan on Climate Change

Technology, World
SAKHALIN ISLAND, Russia — Sixteen wind turbines are slated to go up amid the winding coast and wooded hills of this Russian island in the Pacific, creating a wind park bigger than any that currently exists in the vast reaches of the country’s Far East.The clean energy generated by the new wind park will go toward mining more coal.Russia is scrambling to retain the wealth and power that come from selling fossil fuels to the world, even as the Kremlin increasingly acknowledges climate change to be a human-made crisis that the country needs to do more to address.Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060. It was a remarkable reversal since Mr. Putin has long dismissed climate science and many in his country see international e...

The World Wants Greenland’s Minerals, but Greenlanders Are Wary

Technology
The island has rare elements needed for electric cars and wind turbines. But protesters are blocking one project, signaling that mining companies must tread carefully.By Jack EwingPhotographs by Carsten SnejbjergOct. 1, 2021NARSAQ, Greenland — This huge, remote and barely habited island is known for frozen landscapes, remote fjords and glaciers that heave giant sheets of ice into the sea.But increasingly Greenland is known for something else: rare minerals. It’s all because of climate change and the world’s mad dash to accelerate the development of green technology.As global warming melts the ice that covers 80 percent of the island, it has spurred demand for Greenland’s potentially abundant reserves of hard-to-find minerals with names like neodymium and dysprosium. These so-called rare ea...

This Fjord Shows Even Small Populations Create Giant Microfiber Pollution

LifeStyle
Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago chilling halfway between the Nordic country and the North Pole, is known as much for its rugged beauty as its remoteness. From the village of Longyearbyen, visitors and roughly 2,400 residents can appreciate the stark terrain around the fjord known as Adventfjorden.But the beauty of this Arctic inlet conceals messier, microscopic secrets.“People see this nice, clean, white landscape,” said Claudia Halsband, a marine ecologist in Tromso, Norway, “but that’s only part of the story.”The fjord has a sizable problem with subtle trash — namely microfibers, a squiggly subset of microplastics that slough off synthetic fabrics. Microfibers are turning up everywhere, and among researchers, there’s growing recognition that sewage is helping to spread them, said Peter...