Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base

Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base

SOURCE: Huffington Post

DATE: May 25, 2017

SNIP: Climate change is causing record levels of ice to disappear from the Arctic, and the melt is unearthing something that was supposed to stay buried for centuries — an abandoned U.S. nuclear base.

Camp Century was built in Greenland in 1959 during the peak of the Cold War. The subterranean base held between 85 and 200 soldiers year-round. The base was built under the pretense that it would be a centre for scientific experiments on the icecap and a space to test construction techniques in Arctic conditions.

If the ice melts at Camp Century, it will release an abundance of PCBs as well as other physical, chemical, biological and radiological wastes (including thousands of barrels of diesel) that could eventually be swept to Canada.

The study from Geophysical Research Letters predicted that by 2090 ice around Camp Century will begin to melt, and it will take nearly another century before the camp is fully unearthed. But meltwater runoff could carry chemical waste into the sea as soon as the ice sheet starts melting.

Since that study was published, scientists found that the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of earth. The “Snow, Water, Ice, and Permafrost in the Arctic” report, published in April 2017, significantly increased the projections of how fast global sea-levels will rise, meaning that ice could melt at Camp Century sooner than projected.

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

SOURCE: LiveScience and The Guardian

DATE: May 22, 2017

SNIP:

From The Guardian:

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

From LiveScience:

The seeds are safe — for now. But a famous “doomsday” seed vault is scrambling to renovate after melting permafrost penetrated its access tunnel.

The organization Crop Trust, which partially funds and supports the vault, calls this permafrost a “fail-safe” storage facility on its web page.

But climate change is causing this fail-safe facility to fail.

Low sea ice in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska

Low sea ice in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska

SOURCE: NOAA

DATE: May 23, 2017

SNIP: Sea ice this spring in the Chukchi Sea, off northwest Alaska, is breaking up and melting earlier and much more extensively than is typical for May. While small areas of open water in this region during mid-May are normal, it appears to be unprecedented in the satellite era to have this much open water north of 68°N latitude (Point Hope) at this time of year.

Why is this melt happening now? First, open water persisted in a large area in the western Arctic until mid-December. This was very unusual—possibly unprecedented—and it reduced the time available for ice growth by a month or more. Also, virtually no multi-year ice moved into the area from the northeast, as typically happened in decades past. Finally, the winter was exceptionally mild. Utqiaġvik (Barrow) recorded an average temperature for October through April of +5.4°F, the warmest winter in nearly a century of climate observations.

Sea level rise prior to 1990 found to be slower than other estimates suggesting modern rise significantly faster

Sea level rise prior to 1990 found to be slower than other estimates suggesting modern rise significantly faster

SOURCE: Phys.org

DATE: May 23, 2017

SNIP: A team of researchers from across Europe has found evidence that suggests the rate of rise in sea levels from approximately 1902 until 1990 was less than other models have shown. This indicates, the team reports in their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that modern sea levels are rising faster than suspected.

Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is beginning to turn green

Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is beginning to turn green

SOURCE: Washington Post

DATE: May 18, 2017

SNIP: Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet.

Amid the warming of the last 50 years, the scientists found two different species of mosses undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now growing over 3 millimeters per year on average.

The Antarctic peninsula has been a site of rapid warming, with more days a year where temperatures rise above freezing. The consequence, the study found, was a four- to five-fold increase in the amount of moss growth in the most recent part of the record.

Related: Greening in the Arctic

Slow-Freezing Alaska Soil Driving Surge in CO2 Emissions

Slow-Freezing Alaska Soil Driving Surge in CO2 Emissions

SOURCE: Climate Central

DATE: May 14th, 2017

SNIP: Alaska’s soils are taking far longer to freeze over as winter approaches than in previous decades, resulting in a surge in carbon dioxide emissions that could portend a much faster rate of global warming than scientists had previously estimated, according to new research.

Measurements of carbon dioxide levels taken from aircraft, satellites and on the ground show that the amount of CO2 emitted from Alaska’s frigid northern tundra increased by 70% between 1975 and 2015, in the period between October and December each year.

A lot of models were predicting this thawing would happen, but not for another 50 to 100 years – we didn’t think it would happen this quickly,” said Roisin Commane, researcher at the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and lead author of the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Polar bears shift from seals to bird eggs as Arctic ice melts

Polar bears shift from seals to bird eggs as Arctic ice melts

SOURCE: New Scientist

DATE: May 12, 2017

SNIP: Polar bears are ditching seafood in favour of scrambled eggs, as the heat rises in the Arctic melting the sea ice. A changing coastline has made it harder for the predators to catch the seals they favour and is pushing them towards poaching goose eggs.

“It takes on average 30 seconds to locate a nest and 60 seconds to eat the eggs,” he says. Previous research found that affected bird populations can slump by up to 90 per cent.

As the bears move on to eating bird eggs for sustenance, what will happen to the geese population in the future?

“If numbers decline – which is to be expected – this will have an impact on the whole terrestrial ecosystem,” says Prop. “For example, Arctic foxes depend on young geese as food; reindeer food intake is facilitated by geese grazing the tundra.”

Click through to see a video of a bear decimating the eggs in a geese colony.

‘False sense of security’: Global warming looks set to accelerate, study finds

‘False sense of security’: Global warming looks set to accelerate, study finds

SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald

DATE: May 10, 2017

SNIP: The pace of global warming is likely to quicken in coming years as natural processes in the Pacific switch from serving as a brake to an accelerator, placing the planet on course to exceed a landmark level within a decade, according to a new paper.

The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), a cycle that lasts 10-30 years and affects how much heat is absorbed in the Pacific, started to switch to its positive or “warm” phase since 2014. During positive periods, the central ocean is relatively warm compared with surface waters at higher latitudes.

“A turnaround of the IPO to its positive phase could initiate a period of accelerated warming over the next one or two decades,” Ben Henley and Andrew King state. “This would likely lead to the Paris target of 1.5 degrees (warming since pre-industrial times) being surpassed within the next decade.

Ocean oxygen decline greater than predicted

Ocean oxygen decline greater than predicted

SOURCE: Climate News Network

DATE: May 10, 2017

SNIP: US scientists who have been warning that warmer oceans are more likely to be poorer in dissolved oxygen have now sounded the alarm: ocean oxygen levels are indeed falling, and seemingly falling faster than the corresponding rise in water temperature.

That colder water can hold more dissolved gas than warmer water is a commonplace of physics: it is one reason why polar seas are teeming with marine life and tropical oceans are blue, clear and often relatively impoverished.

In 2013, an international consortium of marine scientists warned that oxygen levels in the oceans could fall by between 1% and 7% by the century’s end. And this could, other scientists predicted, lead to what they politely called “respiratory stress”

“The trend of oxygen falling is about two to three times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with ocean warming,” says Takamitsu Ito, of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who led the study.

Earth could break through a major climate threshold in the next 15 years, scientists warn

Earth could break through a major climate threshold in the next 15 years, scientists warn

SOURCE: Washington Post

DATE: May 9, 2017

SNIP: Global temperatures could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above their preindustrial levels within the next 15 years, according to a new scientific study, crossing the first threshold under the Paris climate agreement and placing the world at a potentially dangerous level of climate change.

The study focuses on a natural planetary system known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO (it’s also sometimes referred to as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation). It’s an alternating pattern of ocean temperatures that shifts periodically between warm and cool phases, helping to drive temperature and weather patterns all over the world.

For most of the 2000s, the IPO has been in a negative phase, and scientists think its cooling effect has helped to slightly offset the effect of climate change, an explanation for the so-called global warming pause in the first part of the 21st century.

Many scientists believe that the planet is now transitioning back into a positive, or warm, phase, which could amplify, rather than offset, human-caused climate warming. This means we could reach milestone temperature thresholds faster than we would if the IPO had remained in its negative phase.

That’s the conclusion of the new study, written by Henley and Andrew King of the University of Melbourne. Using model projections of future climate warming under a business-as-usual scenario, they suggest that the Earth could hit the 1.5-degree temperature threshold as early as 2025, while the continuation of the negative phase probably would delay this event until after 2030.