Arctic

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WWF Climate Blog Has Moved to New Location

The WWF climate blog now is located at a different Web address: worldwildlife.org/blogs/wwf-climate-blog.  All posts since May 2013 are at that location, while older posts will remain archived on this site.  The new site will have a single RSS feed at worldwildlife.org/blogs/wwf-climate-blog.rss.

New WWF web tool maps Arctic nature and activities

As Arctic Council Ministers prepare to meet to outline priorities for the Council’s next two years, WWF has released a mapping tool to help inform those priorities, ArkGIS.

U.S. Unveils Arctic Strategy while Announcing that Atmospheric Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide Have Surpassed Historic Level

The White House on Friday (10 May 2013) released a National Strategy for the Arctic Region, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that daily average atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) had on 9 May surpassed for the first time on record 400.00 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The rise in CO2 concentrations, largely driven by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, is rapidly warming the Arctic.  The strategy acknowledges that “the current warming trend is unlike anything previously recorded” and that “there may be potentially profound environmental consequences of continued ocean warming and Arctic ice melt.” The document recognizes the Administration’s “global objective of combating the climatic changes that are driving these environmental conditions.” But the strategy also invokes U.S. security interests to argue that that “[c]ontinuing to responsibly develop Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with the United States `all of the above’ approach to developing new domestic energy sources.” In the absence of a U.S. low-carbon development strategy, is not clear how the U.S. ultimately will reconcile expanded fossil fuel production in the region with its commitment to combat climate change.

Scientists Release Findings of Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, Warn of Emerging Impacts on Vital Commercial Fisheries

An international group of scientists on Monday (6 May 2013) released the findings of their Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment.  The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), which commissioned the research, said in a press release that the Arctic Ocean "is rapidly accumulating carbon dioxide (CO2) leading to increased ocean acidification...This ongoing change impacts Arctic marine ecosystems already affected by rising temperatures and melting sea ice."   AMAP warns that "Arctic Ocean acidification has the potential to affect both commercial fisheries that are important to northern economies, and marine resources that are used by Arctic indigenous people." 

With Rapid Warming in Northern Latitudes, Massive Shift is Underway in Growing Seasons and Vegetation

An international team of researchers has found that rapid warming in northern latitudes has resulted in a decline in temperature seasonality --  the difference between summer and winter temperatures -- which in turn has shifted growing seasons in the region.  "Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982," says NASA in a press release today (10 March 2013).  "This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometers) to the south in 1982,"  the agency explains.  "It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," said co-author Compton Tucker of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  "The global implications of these large shifts in a region covering a fifth of our planet cannot be understated," says Martin Sommerkorn Head of Conservation for WWF's Global Arctic Programme.

Tracking Pacific Walrus: Expedition to the Shrinking Chukchi Sea Ice (video)

This twelve minute video from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) starts with the biologists describing some of the many endearing qualities of walruses,  explaining how important sea ice is to the animals and why the decline of that ice is so disruptive and threatening -- not just to the walruses but for the people of the region.  The second half of the video shows how USGS biologists use satellite radio tags to track the movement and behavior of the walruses. "The information identifies areas of special importance to walruses during sparse summer sea ice and as human presence increases in the region from oil drilling and activities such as shipping and tourism now possible with less ice," says the USGS. In addition to the video, we provide a transcript.

Federal Report: Rising Seas and Climate Change Threaten Coasts, as Local Governments Shoulder Much of the Preparedness Burden

A new report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in coastal areas of the U.S. warns that coping with sea level rise and coastal disruption "will be a challenge for coastal economies that contributed $8.3 trillion to the GDP in 2011." It says that local governments will have to shoulder much of the burden of "making the critical, basic land-use and public investment decisions and ...working with community stakeholder groups to implement adaptive measures on the ground."

In Film "Chasing Ice," See How Climate Change Puts the Planet on a Slippery Slope (video)

Whether or not we take action to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts depends a lot on compelling images of what is happening to the planet around us, and on visualizing alternative futures. Few images can be as iconic, compelling and symbolic of climate change than the melting and disintegration of the world's ice sheets and glaciers. In the movie Chasing Ice, to be released on 9 November 2012, audiences will follow photographer James Balog and his crew in their determined efforts to capture those images in some of the harshest, most isolated -- and most beautiful -- areas of the planet.

With Inadequate Sea Ice North of Alaska, Walruses Haul-Out Along Russian Coast

We reported last week (26 September 2012), that sea ice in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska had declined to the point where the National Ice Center had characterized an area preferred by walruses (Hanna Shoal) as open water. Without the sea ice they needed to rest on, walruses were headed ashore in search of a suitable area of coastal land where they could "haul out." We and others expected large numbers of walruses to haul out in the area of Point Lay, Alaska, where they have hauled out in recent years. But most of the walruses instead opted to continue swimming far to the West, to haul out in the vicinity of Russia's Cape Serdtse-Kamen -- joining other walruses already hauled out there. Though we cannot yet confirm that large numbers of walruses are hauling out at the remote cape, that certainly was the case last year. By mid-October 2011, an estimated (and astounding) 100,000 walruses from both the U.S. and Russian sides of the Chukchi, had hauled out there.

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