Half a degree Celsius can mean the world for Arctic animals

The Arctic Ocean stays in the headlines with its continuous loss of sea ice. According to the new study, the probability of ice-free summers or not depends on half a degree Celsius. Thus, polar bears depend on the goodwill of the world leaders to fulfill their climate goals. Credit: Michael Wenger

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.

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Bowhead whales between Svalbard and Greenland sing various songs “free jazz” style

Bowhead whales are true Arctic whales and spend a lot of time around the floe edge to feed on fish. With their thick and protected tip of their upper jaw, they can even break ice and create their own breathing holes. Credit: Heiner Kubny

Singing whales? Forget the humpback and spot on to bowhead whales. The longest living marine mammal in the world has a broad range of vocalizations, or songs, at least the ones in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. A study published by scientists from the University of Washington has come to this conclusion after eavesdropping on bowhead whales for four years.

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Russian plans for North Pole research platform

The geographical North Pole has lured many expeditioners into the vast and icy realm of the Arctic. Nowadays, the ice cover gets thinner almost every year, causing a lot of problems for researchers and expeditions. Credit: Michael Wenger

What sounds like an April‘s Fool joke is in fact a true story: Russia plans to establish a research platform at the North Pole, similar to the Amundsen-Scott Station at the southern end of the world. The new station eventually will replace the Russian drift ice stations that have been around since the 1930s.

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Important role for nitrate in Arctic plant ecology

Arctic tundra usually consists of shrubs, grasses, flowers, and mosses and lichens. The soil is low on nutrients in general, but especially on nitrate. Still, many plants can absorb nitrate just like any other plants in lower latitudes. Credit: Michael Wenger

Despite the harsh conditions, Arctic plants grow in a multitude of forms, colors, and sizes in the tundra. However, Arctic tundra soil is known to be nutrient-limited, especially in terms of nitrogen. An international research team has now challenged the general notion that Arctic plants have no need for nitrate. Their results obtained in the tundra region of Alaska show that Arctic plants can absorb nitrate at comparable rates to any vegetation in nitrate-rich areas

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When greenhouse gases start wandering

To investigate the melt ponds on sea ice, the scientists are forced to make camp on the sea ice, close by to the icebreaker “Polarstern”. Credit: Marcel Nicolaus

On the seafloor of the shallow coastal regions north of Siberia, microorganisms produce methane when they break down plant remains. If this greenhouse gas finds its way into the water, it can also become trapped in the sea ice that forms in these coastal waters. As a result, the gas can be transported thousands of kilometers across the Arctic Ocean and released in a completely different region months later. This phenomenon is the subject of an article by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, published in the current issue of the online journal Scientific Reports. Although this interaction between methane, ocean and ice has a significant influence on climate change, to date it has not been reflected in climate models.

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Ocean winds influence seal pup migration

Native American fishermen in Alaska have known that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. A new research study confirms that. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometres farther in blustery years than in calmer years. (Credit: Eric Boerner, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Service)

Scientists have confirmed what native Alaskans have observed for centuries - winds influence the travel patterns of northern fur seal pups. New research shows that strong winds can displace seal pups by hundreds of kilometres during their first winter migration.

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Young explorers take challenge crossing Greenland

The Greenland Ice cap is the second largest body of ice on Earth. It stretches more than 2’500 km north-south and measures 1’100 km across. It covers more than 82% of Greenland and elevates up to 3 km making any crossing almost a high-altitude trip. Credit: Michael Wenger

Crossing the Greenland ice cap by foot still is one of the biggest challenges in modern exploration. This feat was first achieved by Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1888. To commemorate his achievement, a group of 5 explorers and one guide will attempt to relive this remarkable journey starting in May.

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Australian seed collection bound for icy Doomsday Vault in Norway

In the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham in Victoria Different seeds are labelled for identification purposes. (Credit: ABC News, Kerry Staight)

Australia has made its largest deposit into the global seed vault in Svalbard, Norway, as part of the 10th anniversary of the facility dubbed the "Doomsday Vault". In February 2018, more than 30 crates containing 34,000 different types of grain and pasture seeds were delivered to one of the most remote places on Earth for safekeeping.

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Sea ice algae blooms in the dark

Algae grow under the sea ice in the Arctic. Until now, it has been assumed that they only become active in the spring when the ice melts and light penetrates into the depths. As ice melts, the liquid water collects in depressions on the surface and deepens them, forming these melt ponds in the Arctic. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA, uploaded by PDTillman)

Researchers have measured a new world record: Small ice algae on the underside of the Arctic sea ice live and grow at a light level corresponding to only 0.02 percent of the light at the surface of the ice. Algae are the primary component of the Arctic food web and produce food far earlier in the year than previously thought.

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Russian Arctic region desires to clean up Soviet era wrecks

In many areas of the Russian Arctic, loads of junk and debris litter the environment and pose a considerable threat to plants and animals. In many cases, this junk is a left over from the Soviet era. Credit: Bellona.org

In many areas of the Russian Arctic, the silent witnesses of the Soviet era are waiting for their removal. Thousands of tons of junk are still strewn all over the region of Murmansk. In a recent meeting, which was held in Murmansk the regional Parliament’s Ecology Committee has raised the discussion about state funding to remove this hazardous materials.

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