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Human Actions Responsible for Arctic Sea Ice Disappearance, says Study

Many animal species in the Arctic heavily depend on sea ice, and it's likely they will struggle to survive with an ice-free Arctic during the summer

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FILE - An iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland, July 19, 2007. VOA

November 4, 2016: Ice has been disappearing in the Arctic Ocean since at least the 1960. Each year, more and more sea ice vanishes in the Arctic north, and one study says every one of us is personally responsible.

Each passenger taking a flight from New York to Europe, or driving 4,000 kilometers in a gasoline-powered car, emits enough greenhouse gas to melt three square meters of ice on the Arctic Ocean, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

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The study calculates that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide put in the air, there are three square meters less of sea ice in the month of September when the Arctic region is least frozen. Using observations, statistics and 30 different computer models, the study’s authors show heat-trapping gases cause warming and the melting of sea ice in a way that can be translated into a simple mathematical formula.

FILE - A young polar bear walks on ice over deep waters of the Arctic Ocean. (Credit: Shawn Harper) VOA
FILE – A young polar bear walks on ice over deep waters of the Arctic Ocean. (Credit: Shawn Harper) VOA

There’s “a very clear linear relationship” between carbon dioxide emissions and sea ice retreat in September, especially at the southern boundary edges, said study lead author Dirk Notz, a climate scientist at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany.

“It’s very simple. Those emissions from our tailpipes and our coal-fired power plants are all going into the atmosphere,” said study co-author Julienne Stroeve, a climate scientist at both the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and University College, London. “It just increases the warming at the surface. So the ice is going to respond to that. The only way it can do that is to move further north.”

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Stroeve and Notz calculated that the average American each year is responsible for carbon emissions that lead to melting around 50 square meters of September sea ice — about the size of small one-bedroom apartment in a U.S. city.

Many animal species in the Arctic heavily depend on sea ice, and it’s likely they will struggle to survive with an ice-free Arctic during the summer, Notz said. For example, polar bears, who spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, could be at risk.

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As for the future of Arctic sea ice, the study said the international target of 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, as spelled out in the Paris Agreement on climate change that goes into effect Friday, will not be sufficient to allow Arctic summer sea ice to survive. At current carbon emission levels, the ocean around the North Pole would likely be ice-free in Septembers in about 30 years. (VOA)

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Arctic Sea Ice May Be Shrinking Faster Than Thought, says Study

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Canadian Arctic
An iceberg floats past Bylot Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. VOA

Arctic sea ice may be thinning faster than predicted because salty snow on the surface of the ice skews the accuracy of satellite measurements, a new a study from the University of Calgary said on Tuesday.

The report from the Canadian university’s Cryosphere Climate Research Group published in the academic journal Geophysical Research Letters found satellite estimates for the thickness of seasonal Arctic sea ice have been overestimated by up to 25 percent.

That means the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free much sooner than some scientific predictions, which forecast Arctic sea ice will first disappear completely during summer months between 2040 and 2050, according to lead author Vishnu Nandan.

Ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean would impact global weather patterns by increasing the magnitude and frequency of major storms and alter the Arctic marine ecosystem, making it harder for animals like polar bears to hunt.

There is a wide range of projections as to when Arctic sea ice will start disappearing in the summertime as a result of warming global temperatures, and the University of Calgary study calls into question satellite measurements provided so far.

“The problem is, microwave measurements from satellites don’t penetrate the salty snow very well, so the satellite is not measuring the proper sea ice freeboard and the satellite readings overestimate the thickness of the ice,” Nandan said.

The Arctic sea ice freeboard refers to ice that can be seen above sea level and co-researcher John Yackel said, “Our results suggest that snow salinity should be considered in all future estimates on the Arctic seasonal ice freeboard made from satellites.”

Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Diane Craft.(VOA)

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The connection between Antarctic Volcanic Eruptions and abrupt Climate Change: Study

Joseph McConnell conducted the study

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The connection between Antarctic Volcanic Eruptions and abrupt Climate Change
The connection between Antarctic Volcanic Eruptions and abrupt Climate Change. Pixabay
  • The Climate change that began approximately 17,700 years ago included a sudden poleward shift in the westerly winds encircling Antarctica
  • Joseph McConnell’s ice core laboratory enabled high-resolution measurements of ice cores extracted from remote regions of the Earth, such as Greenland and Antarctica
  • West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide core was drilled to a depth of more than 3,405 meters

New York, USA, September 7, 2017: A series of volcanic eruptions in the Antarctica coincided with increased deglaciation and rise in global greenhouse gas concentrations about 17,700 years ago, says a study.

“Detailed chemical measurements in Antarctic ice cores show that massive, halogen-rich eruptions from the West Antarctic Mt. Takahe volcano coincided exactly with the onset of the most rapid, widespread Climate Change in the Southern Hemisphere during the end of the last ice age,” said Joseph McConnell, Professor at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada, US.

The Climate Change that began approximately 17,700 years ago included a sudden poleward shift in the westerly winds encircling Antarctica with corresponding changes in sea ice extent, ocean circulation and ventilation of the deep ocean.

Evidence of Climate Change like this is found in many parts of the Southern Hemisphere and in different paleoclimate archives, but what prompted these changes has remained largely unexplained.

“We postulate that these halogen-rich eruptions created a stratospheric ozone hole over Antarctica that, analogous to the modern ozone hole, led to large-scale changes in atmospheric circulation and hydro climate throughout the Southern Hemisphere,” McConnell said.

Furthermore, the fallout from these eruptions – containing elevated levels of hydrofluoric acid and toxic heavy metals – extended at least 2,800 kilometers from Mt. Takahe and likely reached southern South America.

For the study, McConnell’s ice core laboratory enabled high-resolution measurements of ice cores extracted from remote regions of the Earth, such as Greenland and Antarctica.

One such ice core, known as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) core was drilled to a depth of more than 3,405 meters, and much of it was analyzed in the Desert Research Institute Ultra-Trace Laboratory for more than 30 different elements and chemical species.

Additional analyses and modeling studies critical to support the authors’ findings were made by collaborating institutions around the US and the world.

“These precise, high-resolution records illustrate that the chemical anomaly observed in the WAIS Divide ice core was the result of a series of eruptions of Mt. Takahe located 350 kilometers to the north,” Monica Arienzo, Assistant Research Professor at DRI, said. (IANS)

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Conserving Pandas can Enrich Biodiversity along with Fighting Climate Changes: Study

the forests which are inside the reserves and the ones in areas outside the borders of the reserves, provide complex canopy which include the leaves and branches

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habitat of pandas
A panda nibbles on a bamboo shoot. Pixabay
  • The research noted that forests outside of reserves often grow faster than the ones inside the reserves
  • It was also discovered by the researchers that forests in the lower elevation zones which are not primarily meant for the habitat for pandas, are not being protected properly yet

Washington DC, July 02, 2017: Pandas are adorable creatures! Conserving these animals can also enrich biodiversity along with fighting climate changes, a new study has revealed.

According to the reports of ANI, the study leads to a course going beyond pandas to more beneficial ways of conservation.

Jianguo “Jack” Liu from the Michigan State University in East Lansing, US, stated “Sometimes unintended consequences can be happy ones – and give us ways to do even better as we work toward sustainability.” She further added, “Pandas are leading us to even greater ways to care for nature and health of humans and the planet,” ANI reported.

ALSO READ: With captive Giant Pandas living longer than ever, list of their physical and even Emotional needs is growing

Another researcher Andres Viña said, “Reserves are created thinking about the pandas – but we wanted to see if they provide more benefits than just the pandas.”

Liu and Viña discovered that due to the slow metabolism rate and the limited diet of these animals, bamboo is lacking in nutritional density, and pandas need large forests for their survival.

According to the reports, the forests which are inside the reserves and the ones in areas outside the borders of the reserves, provide complex canopy which include the leaves and branches, soaking up carbon dioxide- a greenhouse gas that heavily affects climate change.

The research noted that forests outside of reserves often grow faster than the ones inside the reserves. But according to Vina, that isn’t a downfall of reserves.

Viña further stated that it would be great to allow more space between the planted trees and include different varieties to grow as well for more robust forests, in future, ANI has reported.

It was also discovered by the researchers that forests in the lower elevation zones which are not primarily meant for the habitat for pandas, are not being protected properly yet. She stated “We are seeing efforts that are moving in the right direction and showing positive results for nature and for humans. Now it’s time to continue those efforts and fine tune them to continue to get even more benefits.”

Reportedly, the study has been published in journal Ecosphere.

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC