Thirty Years After the Montreal Protocol, Solving the Ozone Problem Remains Elusive

Thirty Years After the Montreal Protocol, Solving the Ozone Problem Remains Elusive

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: Aug 14, 2017 SNIP: Did the Montreal Protocol fix the ozone hole? It seemed so. With chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-eating chemicals banned, many scientists said it was only a matter of time before the ozone layer recharged, and the annual hole over Antarctica healed for good. But 30 years on, some atmospheric chemists are not so sure. The healing is proving painfully slow. And new discoveries about chemicals not covered by the protocol are raising fears that full recovery could be postponed into the 22nd century – or possibly even prevented altogether. …[I]n the past five years, evidence has emerged that potential ozone-eating compounds can reach the ozone layer much faster than previously thought. Under some weather conditions, just a few days may be enough. And that means a wide range of much more short-lived compounds threaten the ozone layer – chemicals not covered by the Montreal Protocol. These compounds are all around us. They are widely used as industrial solvents for tasks like degreasing and dry cleaning. And their releases into the atmosphere are increasing fast. … [Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey] says an important reason for the sluggish recovery of the ozone layer is global warming. As increased levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap more solar heat radiating from the Earth’s surface, less warmth reaches the stratosphere, which cools as a result. This trend has been evident for almost 40 years. A colder stratosphere improves conditions for ozone loss. Climate change “could delay the recovery of the ozone hole well into the second half of this century,”...
There’s a Wildfire Burning in West Greenland Right Now

There’s a Wildfire Burning in West Greenland Right Now

SOURCE: Climate Central and Think Progress DATE: Aug 7, 2017 UPDATE: There are actually two wildfires burning in Greenland. SOURCE: Wild Fire Today SNIP: It’s not just the American West and British Columbia burning up. A fire has sparked in western Greenland, an odd occurrence for an island known more for ice than fire. A series of blazes is burning roughly in the vicinity of Kangerlussuaq, a small town that serves as a basecamp for researchers in the summer to access Greenland’s ice sheet and western glaciers. The largest fire has burned roughly 3,000 acres and sent smoke spiraling a mile into the sky, prompting hunting and hiking closures in the area, according to local news reports. There’s no denying that it’s weird to be talking about wildfires in Greenland because ice covers the majority of the island. Forests are basically nonexistent and this fire appears to be burning through grasses, willows and other low-slung vegetation on the tundra that makes up the majority of the land not covered by...
Russia’s new Arctic super-tanker brings Norwegian LNG to Asia

Russia’s new Arctic super-tanker brings Norwegian LNG to Asia

SOURCE: Arctic Now DATE: Aug 1, 2017 SNIP: Loaded with liquefied gas from Norway’s Snøhvit field, the ice-breaking LNG tanker Christophe de Margerie is making an unescorted voyage across the Northern Sea Route to South Korea. It is the first commercial voyage of the unique vessel, originally built for company Novatek and its grand Yamal LNG project. The Christophe de Margerie loaded LNG at Statoil’s Melkøya gas terminal on the Norwegian Barents Sea coast in late July and set a course east. It is the first in a fleet of 15 tankers of the kind built to serve the Yamal LNG. The ships can carry shiploads up to 172,600 cubic tons of liquefied natural gas. Only once before has a tanker brought LNG from Norway to the Asian market through the Northern Sea Route. In late 2012, the tanker Ob River successfully sailed the route and delivered LNG to a terminal in...
Loss of Arctic sea ice impacting Atlantic Ocean water circulation system

Loss of Arctic sea ice impacting Atlantic Ocean water circulation system

SOURCE: Yale News DATE: July 31, 2017 SNIP: Arctic sea ice is not merely a passive responder to the climate changes occurring around the world, according to new research. Scientists at Yale University and the University of Southampton say the ongoing Arctic ice loss can play an active role in altering one of the planet’s largest water circulation systems: the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). AMOC has a lower limb of dense, cold water that flows south from the north Atlantic, and an upper limb of warm, salty water that flows north from the south Atlantic as part of the Gulf Stream. AMOC plays a major role in regional and global climate, affecting the Atlantic rim countries — particularly those in Europe — and far beyond. Earlier this year, a different Yale-led study cautioned that the AMOC system was not as stable as previously thought. That study said the possibility of a collapsed AMOC under global warming conditions is being significantly underestimated. “We’ve now found this new connection between sea ice and AMOC,” Liu [Wei Liu, a Yale postdoctoral associate] said. “Sea ice loss is clearly important among the mechanisms that could potentially contribute to AMOC collapse.” “In our experiments we saw a potential loss of 30% to 50% of AMOC’s strength due to Arctic sea ice loss. That is a significant amount, and it would accelerate the collapse of AMOC if it were to occur,” Fedorov [Alexey Fedorov, climate scientist at the Yale Department of Geology and Geophysics]...
Forget That Big Iceberg–A Smaller One in the Arctic Is More Troubling

Forget That Big Iceberg–A Smaller One in the Arctic Is More Troubling

SOURCE: Scientific American DATE: July 31, 2017 SNIP: The world saw headlines about one of the largest icebergs ever calved a few weeks ago. But a smaller one on the other end of the globe might have bigger consequences. The chunk of ice, which broke free in the Arctic last week, is more worrisome to climate scientists who are watching one of Earth’s largest glaciers shed pieces in a way that stands to raise sea levels. Movement of the Petermann Glacier has sped up in recent years, dumping land-based ice into the ocean at a faster rate and drawing more ice down from the center of Greenland, said Laurence Dyke, a researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Meanwhile, the ice shelf that braces it and slows the rate of flow is disintegrating as climate change transforms the region. “You could call it the canary in the coal mine. If that big glacier there is changing quickly, and it is, it’s a worrying sign for what’s happening in the rest of Greenland,” he...