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.
Scientists from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) and the University of Hamburg have succeeded in realistically simulating the emergence of large channels in the Artic sea ice in a computer model. Two approaches were decisive for this success: On the one hand, the researchers had increased the spatial resolution of the FESOM AWI sea-ice ocean model. On the other hand, they were able to improve the numerical solution to the equation so that the simulation of the lead formation holds up well when compared to real sea-ice satellite data. They reported this success in a study that appeared online in the professional journal, Geophysical Research Letters.
Being a penguin isn’t easy nowadays. Changing climate, overfishing, pollution are just a number of threats which make penguin life difficult. On Zavodovski Island, part of the South Sandwich Archipelage, a new threat adds to the list. A volcano erupting there is depositing ash over one of the world’s largest penguin colonies.
On the current Polarstern expedition, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute have deployed a multicopter with a high-resolution camera to quantify marine litter floating on the sea surface. The deep-sea researchers had recorded a marked increase of man-made litter on the Arctic seafloor over the last ten years. That was the reason to now start the programme for the quantitative analysis of waste-entry on the sea surface.
Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of Adélie penguins across Antarctica for millions of years. The geologic record tells us that as glaciers expanded and covered Adélie breeding habitats with ice, penguin colonies were abandoned. When the glaciers melted during warming periods, this warming positively affected the Adélie penguins, allowing them to return to their rocky breeding grounds. But now, University of Delaware scientists and colleagues report that this beneficial warming may have reached its tipping point.
The Siberian permafrost regions include those areas of the Earth, which heat up very quickly in the course of climate change. Nevertheless, biologists are currently observing only a minimal response in forest composition. In the places where, when considering the air temperature, pine and spruce forests should be growing, Siberian larch trees are still thriving. The cause of this paradox has been tracked using million-year-old bee pollen by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Cologne, and international partner institutions. The results suggest that the intensity of the ice ages determined how quick the vegetation adapted to warmer climate periods. In our case, that means: Because the last ice age was very cold, the vegetation of the Taiga lags behind the climate by many thousands of years. A surprisingly long period, as the researchers in the open access journal Nature Communications report.
Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out towards the open ocean. A new study published today in the journal Nature Geoscience shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.
The Totten Glacier region in East-Antarctica is the outlet for one of the biggest ice catchments in the world. Scientists have discovered that two unstable regions exist across which the ice has retreated and advanced rapidly before in Earth history. A retreat past these unstable regions could cause a dramatic further retreat of the glacier with an associated global sea-level rise of 2 or even 4 meters.
Permafrost below shallow Arctic lakes is thawing as a result of changing winter climate, new research shows. These rates of warming are similar to those observed in terrestrial permafrost, yet those soils are still well below freezing and thaw is not expected for at least another 70 years. However, a regime shift in lake ice is leading to sub-lake permafrost thaw now.
Celebrating solstice has become very popular again in the western world. On June 21st, thousands of people on the northern hemisphere celebrate the longest day and enjoying the longest sunshine of the year (if visible). But at the same time on the southern hemisphere, people celebrate the shortest day of the year and the return of the sun, especially in Antarctica. But how do they celebrate in the remote stations of the Antarctic continent?
A new study on the commercial opportunities and challenges of Arctic shipping by researchers at Copenhagen Business School’s Maritime Division finds that the navigation season on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will remain too short for investments in ice-class vessels to be economically viable in the coming decades. Only after the year 2035 may the Arctic shipping route along Russia’s northern coast became competitive for some ships of comparable size.