The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic. With the help of a climate model, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute have demonstrated how this process took place, allowing us for the first time to understand more accurately how Atlantic circulation as we know it today came about. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.
The coastline of Newfoundland in eastern Canada has received increased attention due to a large number of unexpected visitors. For weeks, a larger than usual amount of icebergs and drifting sea ice has been washed up along the shores of the islands. For tourists and locals alike, the bergs and ice pose a spectacular photo motive while sailors and International Ice Patrol worry about the impact on shipping lanes and marine traffic.
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.
The iconic icebergs in Greenland are not just scenic photo motives. They are a sign of changes which happen along the entire coast, the melting of the Greenland glaciers. These icy leviathans, consisting of fresh water, break off and slowly float into the adjacent waters, slowly delivering their fresh water into the salty oceans. A research team has now concluded that icebergs contribute more meltwater to Greenland’s fjords than previously thought, losing up to half of their volume as they move through the narrow inlets, according to the teams findings.
Giant snowballs have appeared on the Arctic coast of Siberia. Special environmental conditions created this natural phenomenon. Residents of the village Nyda, north of the Arctic Circle, have been enjoying the unusual sight.
During summer the Arctic is buzzing with insects. Here like everywhere else plants rely on them for pollination. A new study found that small flies related to the common house fly are the most important insects in the Arctic. This findings, however, offers cause for concern, as arctic fly abundances are declining as the Arctic continues to warm.
The majestic auroras have captivated humans for thousands of years, but their nature – the fact that the lights are electromagnetic and respond to solar activity – was only realized in the last 150 years. Thanks to coordinated multi-satellite observations and a worldwide network of magnetic sensors and cameras, close study of auroras has become possible over recent decades. Yet, auroras continue to mystify, dancing far above the ground to some, thus far, undetected rhythm.
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.
In recent years, mackerel have appeared in Greenland waters, and in their wake new and economically important fisheries have emerged. The first mackerel were caught in Greenland in 2011. And already three years later, in 2014, mackerel fishing had grown to make up entire 23 percent of the Greenlandic export earnings which is 78,000 tons of mackerel.
According to estimates, Alaska's thawing permafrost soils cost the USA several 100 million dollars every decade – primarily because airports, roads, pipelines and settlements require relocation as a result of sinking ground and eroding river banks. An international team of researchers has now measured riverbank erosion rates, which exceed all previous records, along the Itkillik River in Alaska's north. In a stretch of land where the ground contains a particularly large quantity of ice the Itkillik River eats into the river bank at 19 metres per year, the researchers report in a study recently published in the journal Geomorphology.