Ecosystems & Species

With Record Low Sea Ice Extent, Polar Bears Persevere on Marginal Ice -- or on Land

On Saturday, 15 September -- the day before the Arctic sea ice extent reached its record low -- a scientist aboard the USGS Healy spotted a polar bear struggling across thin ice.  Her photos capture a situation facing growing numbers of polar bears as sea ice extent declines, and the ice grows thinner, in response to warming conditions. The bears must persevere on marginal ice or swim in search of suitable sea ice -- both far from preferred coastal waters; or they must abandon the ice altogether and swim to land.

"An Unprecedented Planetary Distress Signal": Arctic Sea Ice Extent Bottoms Out at a Record Low

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center today (19 Sept 2012) announced that the extent of Arctic sea ice reached an annual minimum of 1.32 million square miles, the lowest sea ice extent on record (since 1979 when satellites started to regularly monitor the ice). The extraordinary sea ice decline has enormous implications in the region, and has consequences that extend well south of the Arctic. “In a year of record-breaking extremes, shocking has become the new normal," says Lou Leonard, Managing Director for Climate Change at WWF-US. "But what’s happened in the Arctic this summer should be on the front page of every newspaper. This is an unprecedented planetary distress signal.”

Alaska climate webinar to discuss Bristol Bay salmon

Event Date: 
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 10:00am - 11:00am
A webinar, Climate Change and Potential Impacts on Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Populations will take place Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 from 10 -11 a.m. AKDT.  The event will be hosted by the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

Al Jazeera: NASA: Arctic sea ice reaches record low (video)

Al Jazeera's Nick Clark reports from the Last Ice Area -- the northwest coast of Greenland and Canada’s High Arctic Islands -- aboard the Arctic Tern 1.  It is the first of four reports in a special series from WWF's Sailing to Siku voyage.

Al Jazeera: Arctic way of living 'under threat' (video)

Al Jazeera's Nick Clark reports from Qerqertat, Greenland, the northernmost civilian community in the second of four reports  from the Last Ice Area -- the northwest coast of Greenland and Canada’s High Arctic Islands.

Al Jazeera: Tracking the effects of climate change (video)

Al Jazeera's Nick Clark reports from the Arctic as he travels from Qaanaaq, on the west coast of Greenland, to Canada. It is the third of four reports from the Last Ice Area -- the northwest coast of Greenland and Canada’s High Arctic Islands.

Al Jazeera: Arctic wildlife at risk from climate change (video)

Al Jazeera's Nick Clark reports from the northernmost civilian community in the fourth and final report in a special series from the Last Ice Area -- the northwest coast of Greenland and Canada’s High Arctic Islands.

The Melting North: Arctic Ice and Climate Change

When I was a kid, one of my prized possessions was a globe. No part of that globe fascinated me more than the Arctic, that amazing mass of white covering the top of the world.  But as we load the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, global warming is melting that polar ice.  On 26 August, sea ice extent had declined to 42 percent below the 1979-2000 median -- a reduction of extent equivalent to about one third of the entire land area of the United States. The globe we knew as children is disappearing before our eyes. Our politicians need to have an adult conversation  about these risks while we still have time.

To Politicians Napping on the Fireline: Wake Up, Smell the Smoke and Act on Climate Change

Extraordinary wildfire conditions are among the indications that climate change is well underway in the Southwestern U.S.  Cities and towns in the region are responding, showing leadership where the federal government does not.  Alas, many of our elected representatives in Washington are napping on the fireline. They need to wake up, smell the smoke and take climate change seriously.

Colorado Congressman Wants Federal Support for Fossil Fuels -- and for Coping with their Climate Impacts

Congressman Cory Gardner, a freshman Republican representing a large part of northern and eastern Colorado, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Gardner along with the majority of committee members, supports expanded U.S. production of fossil fuels. Pollutants released by those fuels are accumulating in the atmosphere and making his state and the rest of the Southwest hotter and drier. Gardner and many of his colleagues deny that fossil fuel use seriously threatens climate, and oppose regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. While they promote policies that undermine Federal efforts to address the threat of climate change, their home states and districts are experiencing weather extremes -- and impacts -- that foreshadow the ultimate consequences of such policies.  The High Park Fire in Gardner's district has torched 87,284 acres, burned 257 houses and has cost $33.5 million to suppress. To the south, in Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 346 homes this week, and threatens over 20,000 more homes.

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