The energy supply to Longyearbyen, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is a hot topic in the climate debate. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Today, Longyearbyen obtains its electric power and district heating from its coal power plant, the only one in Norway. However, Scandinavia’s largest think tank has estimated that Svalbard’s future could be green and sustainable.
Scientists have successfully deployed miniature GPS loggers on threatened black browed albatross on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island to find out more about the foraging habits of the birds. Approximately 40 pairs of black browed albatross breed on the steep slopes of the remote Island, and this summer researchers attached five loggers to the breeding birds.
Next to warming and acidification, one of the most prominent problems of the oceans is littering. Several hundred thousand tons of litter is drifting in the oceans of the world and levels are rising. The Arctic Ocean is no exception: in just ten years, the concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea station in the Arctic Ocean has risen 20-fold. This was recently reported in a study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).
Antarctic starfish can possibly bequeath the adaptation to warmer and more acidic oceans to their offspring. Laboratory experiments showed that the adaptation to changing environmental conditions can be passed on to the next generation through changed gene expression.
The World, a private residential yacht, has broken the record for the most southerly navigation reaching 78°43.997´S and 163°41.421´W at the Bay of Whales in Antarctica’s Ross Sea during her recent 22-day Ross Sea Expedition.
2016 will be remembered for many things, one of them being the heat. Globally, it was the hottest year since instrumental records began, but Arctic temperatures during 2016 were truly exceptional. As the year drew to a close, the high-latitude Arctic was blistered with extended periods of record-breaking heat. Surface temperatures during October–December were, on average, ~5 °C above expected in an area spanning the Arctic Ocean, from Greenland across the North Pole to far eastern Russia.
Increased meltwater influx from the glaciers of Antarctica are considered one of the most pressing consequences of climate change on the Southern Ocean. However, the fate meltwater which flows out from underneath the glaciers was unknown until now. An international team of researchers has discovered why this fresh water is often detected below the surface of the ocean, rather than rising to the top above denser seawater. The team found that the Earth’s rotation influences the way meltwater behaves – keeping it at depths of several hundred metres.
One of the major problems in the Arctic is nuclear waste from submarines, ice breakers and other nuclear powered vessels and stations. These legacies of the past Cold War era are still looming. Storage and treatment are cost-intensive and technically difficult. However, in Saida Bay near Murmansk, a brand-new radioactive waste treatment and storage plant is a brilliant example and symbol of what is possible if east and west invest into cooperation instead of arms race. Now, Murmansk governor Marina Kovtun has invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit the complex.
The changing climate has detrimental effects on many polar species, especially in the Arctic, which warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Numerous studies have shown that traits like reproduction are negatively impacted. However, a long term study conducted by researchers of the University of Washington has found that one of Alaska’s most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change. This could impact the ecology of northern lakes, which already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Six weeks ago, news of moving the award-winning British Antarctic research station Halley VI were published by BAS. Due to a huge crack in the ice shelf, BAS had decided to relocate the station 23 km further east of its current position. Now, as the relocation is in its final stage, it has been decided to close the station for the winter for safety reasons and remove all personnel before the onset of Antarctic winter.