Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

SOURCE: The Barents Observer DATE: November 1, 2019 SNIP: It was not alternative and green power that was discussed when Indian Minister of oil, natural gas and steel Dharmendra Debendra Pradhan visited Russia last month. The minister was on a four-day tour in the Russian Far East and he had with him a powerful delegation of leaders from the country’s biggest industrial companies. It was coal that was on top of Mr Pradhan’s agenda as he sat down with Russian government officials and business representatives. “Our negotiations must end with a successful project decision on the development of metallurgic coal, that is to be exported from Russia,” the minster said in a meeting with the Russian Ministry of the Far East and Arctic. According to Pradhan, India needs about 70 million tons of high-quality coal for its aluminum and steel industry. Pradhan and the Indian business leaders are looking towards the Russian Arctic, where they will find all the carbon-rich rocks they ever might need. Several new major mining projects are under development in the remote northern region. Among them is the projects of company Vostok Coal in the Taymyr Peninsula. Vostok Coal plans to extract an annual 30 million tons of anthracite, a high-quality coal, from its fields in Taymyr. Since 2016, the company has prepared the ground for a huge industrial project that includes several open pits and the building of seaports, roads and other infrastructure. Coal India Limited is the largest coal-producing company in the world. It produces more than 500 million tons of raw coal per year and accounts for for more than 80 percent...
Subsea permafrost thaws faster than previously thought, Russian scientists say

Subsea permafrost thaws faster than previously thought, Russian scientists say

SOURCE: The Siberian Times DATE: October 28, 2019 SNIP: Unexpectedly high level of subsea permafrost degradation was recorded by a Russian-led scientific expedition that spent more than a month in the seas of the eastern Arctic. A record high methane gas emission in a shape of an underwater ‘fountain’ was registered at the beginning of October east of Bennett island in the East Siberian Sea. ‘It was a needle in a haystack chase, to find an exact place of a methane seep in dark sea waters, but we found it! ‘Just right off the Academician Keldysh scientists noticed a spot of emerald-coloured water, with gas rushing to surface in thousands of bubble threads’, said expedition member Sergey Nikiforov, a communications experts of the Tomsk Politechnical University. The area of the fountain covered about five metres, with water ‘so violently boiling with methane bubbles’ that scientists skipped using plastic cones for sampling and instead collected the gas in buckets. Unexpectedly high speed of degradation of subsea permafrost has been recorded. ‘In some areas the roof of subsea permafrost thawed to the stability horizons of gas hydrates. Moreover, it has been proved that over the past 30 years speed of vertical degradation of subsea permafrost doubled compared to previous centuries and reached 18 centimetres per year which is significantly higher than in earlier estimates‘, said professor Semiletov. ‘This result makes us reconsider the belief that subsea permafrost is stable and can only thaw by a few metres by the end of 21st century’, he stressed. Elena Kudryashova, rector of Northern Federal University, Arkhangelsk: ‘Another important subject of our research was study...
Why Rising Acidification Poses a Special Peril for Warming Arctic Waters

Why Rising Acidification Poses a Special Peril for Warming Arctic Waters

SOURCE: Yale Environment 360 DATE: October 24, 2019 SNIP: From the deck of a Norwegian research ship, the ravages of climate change in the Arctic are readily apparent. In the Fram Strait, the ocean passageway between Norway’s Arctic islands and the east coast of Greenland, seas that should be ice-covered in early September shimmer in the sunlight. Glaciers that muscled across mountains a decade ago are now in rapid retreat, leaving behind walls of glacial till. Rivers of meltwater gush off the Greenland Ice Sheet. But some of the biggest changes taking place in these polar seas are invisible. Under disappearing ice cover, these waters are rapidly growing more acidic as decades of soaking up humanity’s carbon emissions take their toll on ocean chemistry. “Warm, fresh, and sour,” says Colin Stedmon, a chemical oceanographer from the Technical University of Denmark, of the changes sweeping Arctic seas, which, along with the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, are acidifying faster than any other marine waters on the planet. He and the rest of the crew of researchers from across Europe are trying to decipher how a warming Arctic is, as Stedmon puts it, “melting ice, freshening seawater, and reducing its ability to resist acidification.” The Arctic is a bellwether for acidification, oceanographers say. Since the Industrial Age, the planet’s oceans have stored up to 30 percent of human CO2 output, with cold polar waters, in which the gas is the most soluble, absorbing the lion’s share. Those same cold waters and unique environmental conditions make the Arctic especially susceptible to the rapidly shifting ocean chemistry wrought by that excess carbon. The result:...
Trump administration takes key step to open Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling by end of year

Trump administration takes key step to open Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling by end of year

SOURCE: The Hill DATE: September 12, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration announced a key step toward opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration Thursday, rolling out a plan that would see lease sales occur by the end of the year. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its finalized Environmental Impact Statement, which favors the option to offer lease sales across 1.56 million acres of Alaska’s coastal plains. “After rigorous review, robust public comment, and a consideration of a range of alternatives, today’s announcement is a big step to carry out the clear mandate we received from Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the Coastal Plain, a program the people of Alaska have been seeking for over 40 years,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. Under law, the BLM now has a 30-day waiting period before it can open up calls from fossil fuel companies for tracts to bid on and file its finalized Notice of Decision. Officials say they anticipate holding lease sales before the end of the year. Critics warn that oil and gas development in ANWR would wreak havoc on populations of Porcupine caribou, polar bears and migratory...
Climate crisis: Greenland’s ice faces melting ‘death sentence’

Climate crisis: Greenland’s ice faces melting ‘death sentence’

SOURCE: BBC DATE: September 3, 2019 SNIP: Greenland’s massive ice sheet may have melted by a record amount this year, scientists have warned. During this year alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre. Researchers say they’re “astounded” by the acceleration in melting and fear for the future of cities on coasts around the world. One glacier in southern Greenland has thinned by as much as 100 metres since I last filmed on it back in 2004. Another revelation is that the ice is not only being melted by the air, as the atmosphere heats up, but also by warmer water reaching underneath the fronts of the glaciers. One Nasa scientist describes the ice as being under a hair-dryer and at the same time also on a cooker. One of the scientists studying the ice sheet, Dr Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), says he’s unnerved by the potential dangers and that coastal planners need to “brace themselves”. “Now that I’m starting to understand more of the consequences, it’s actually keeping me awake at night because I realise the significance of this place around the world and the livelihoods that are already affected by sea level rise,” he told me. According to Dr Box, it’s the recent increase in the average temperature that’s being felt in Greenland’s ice: “Already effectively that’s a death sentence for the Greenland ice sheet because also going forward in time we’re expecting temperatures only to climb,” he said. “So, we’re losing Greenland – it’s really a question of how...