• New Arctic sea ice record low

    The Arctic probably is the fastest warming region on this planet. It never was as apparent as this winter. Several heat waves had struck the High Arctic and temperatures rose up to 5°C above the 30-year average. This and the fact that less sea ice had been formed last year as well had led to a new record low of Arctic sea ice extent in winter. Only 14.4 million square meters of the Arctic Ocean had been covered with sea ice. The unusual warming period als has led to strange weather phenomenas on the entire northern hemisphere this winter.

New Report Calls for Protection of the Weddell Sea Region

As part of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance’s (AOA) proposal to designate marine protected areas (MPA) and marine reserves across 19 regions around Antarctica, the AOA today launched its new report titled Antarctic Ocean Legacy: Towards Protection of the Weddell Sea Region. The findings of the report aim to contribute towards ongoing scientific and policy work – currently led by Germany and Russia – on the region, which is located south of the Atlantic Ocean. The Weddell Sea region is renowned for having one of the most intact ecosystems left on earth and for being a major engine of global ocean circulation.

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Russia in times of change

Russia is the country with the largest Arctic area. Its entire northern coastal region from Murmansk to Uelen is considered a part of the Arctic. This means also that Russia also includes the most number of time zones, 9 until now. But times are a changing, also in Russia, not just literally. Because the Russian parliament has discussed a time reform and has issued new laws for this.

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From China with Love – China’s Panda diplomacy in Denmark

China has intensified its focus in direction of the Arctic over the last years. According to experts, its resources and the shorter transportation routes are of the biggest national concern. Also on a political level, China has intensified the contacts to various Arctic states and started a charming offensive, also towards Denmark. In April, the Copenhagen Zoo had visitors from the Middle Kingdom: two Panda bears. But China’s gift of two giant pandas to the Copenhagen Zoo last month might have been more than just a friendly gesture. 

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New polar research ship for UK

The exploration of the Polar Regions is constantly advancing because our knowledge about these important regions is by far incomplete and sketchy at best. Through technical advancement scientists also get new platforms to conduct research in these difficult areas. One of the most important platforms are ice breakers which not only work as a means of transportation but are proper swimming research bases. The latest plans for a new ice breaker have been presented by the UK.

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Stay fat and still healthy -Polar bear genome gives new insight into adaptations to high-fat diet

A comparison of the genomes of polar bears and brown bears reveals that the polar bear is a much younger species than previously believed, having diverged from brown bears less than 500,000 years ago. The analysis also uncovered several genes that may be involved in the polar bears’ extreme adaptations to life in the high Arctic. The species lives much of its life on sea ice, where it subsists on a blubber-rich diet of primarily marine mammals.

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Arctic – Surprising climate balance

Since the last glacial period so-called thermokarst lakes in Arctic permafrost areas have sequestered more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than they ever previously emitted during their formation. An international team of scientists presents this surprising research result today in an online publication by the journal Nature. The researchers had examined up to 10,000-year-old soil deposits from northern Siberian lakes and calculated for the first time the total carbon balance for several hundred thousand bodies of water. Their conclusion was that the melt water lakes that came into being due to climate warming after the last glacial period emitted large amounts of methane for a short period. In the long run, however, they cooled the climate in the Arctic by absorbing and storing 1.6 times more carbon than they ever released. An increasingly warmer Arctic could reverse this process within a short time, however.

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