The Arctic hits one sad record after the other. Last month, news that the maximum ice extent was the second lowest in the history of records spread through the media. Last week, another anomaly was recorded: a new heat wave hit the Arctic region, especially the North Pole, with temperatures around 18° C above normal. Also, almost all areas of the European and Russian Arctic experienced higher temperature than normal.
Recently, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) secured substantial funding for its campaign against single-use plastic in the Arctic and on member vessels. Now, the Arctic expedition cruise industry steps up efforts to combat marine plastic pollution as AECO hires seasoned polar tourism professional Sarah Auffret as AECO’s new environmental agent.
The Subantarctic island of South Georgia had been troubled by rodents for centuries. Brought in by whalers and sealers, rats and mice devastated the bird colonies and the vegetation. Over the last 10 years, however, things have changed for the better. In the world’s largest eradication program, more than 1’000 km2 of the island were cleared of any rodents. Now, the South Georgia Heritage Trust has declared the campaign a huge success.
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) reported its visitor numbers for the 2017-2018 Antarctic season at the start of its annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. IAATO has been monitoring, analyzing and reporting trends since 1991 as part of its commitment to ‘leave only footprints’ through the effective self-management of its activities.
A new study has revealed a previously undocumented process where melting glacial ice sheets change the ocean in a way that further accelerates the rate of ice melt and sea level rise. The research found that glacial meltwater makes the ocean's surface layer less salty and more buoyant, preventing deep mixing in winter and allowing warm water at depth to retain its heat and further melt glaciers from below.
International research teams had found several lakes under the Antarctic ice sheet, preserved there for millions of years. Similar results were obtained in Greenland underneath the second largest ice cap in the world. Now, scientists from the University of Alberta have made an astonishing find: super-salty lakes underneath the Devon Ice Cap, the largest Canadian ice cap, located on Devon Island, Nunavut. These lakes are also the first hypersaline subglacial lakes worldwide.
The waters around Antarctica, usually combined as the Southern Ocean, have made many headlines lately. Pollution, fisheries, climate change are a few of the pressures that this vast water body is facing. Mid-April, international scientists had gathered in Hobart, Tasmania, to discuss the challenges and possible solutions in a first attempt to combine their knowledge.
The marine environment faces a lot of problems and dangers. Pollution, especially in the shape of plastic litter, is one of the main issues, also in the Arctic. The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators AECO now takes a stand against this threat: Armed with €300’000 in funding, backing from the UN and thousands of volunteers, AECO will work to drastically cut back on single-use plastics on its member vessels, as well as enhance cruise passengers’ involvement in regular beach cleanup. All of this is part of the UN Environment Clean Seas campaign.
Looking at effects of climate change, most people focus on the large iconic species such as seals, whales, and polar bears. However, the Arctic is a very diverse region and consists of more than these animals. A research team from Washington University found that Arctic arthropods such as insects and spiders will face an even harder and more uncertain future than the other Arctic ambassadors. The results of the study were published in The Royal Society Open Science.
The difference between life and death usually is a thin line. The same goes for the very existence of Arctic sea ice and all the animals which depend on it, according to a new study by a researcher from the University of Colorado. Her analysis shows that already half a degree more of climate warming will lead to a more certain ice-free Arctic ocean in the future.