Intense future climate change could have a far different impact on the world than current models predict, suggests a thought-provoking new study just out in the journal Science Advances. If atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to double in the future, it finds, a major ocean current — one that helps regulate climate and weather patterns all over the world — could collapse. And that could paint a very different picture of the future than what we’ve assumed so far. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC, is often described as a large oceanic conveyor belt. It’s a system of water currents that transports warm water northward from the Atlantic toward the Arctic, contributing to the mild climate conditions found in places like Western Europe. In the Northern Atlantic, the northward flowing surface water eventually cools and sinks down toward the bottom of the ocean, and another current brings that cooler water back down south again. The whole process is part of a much larger system of overturning currents that circulates all over the world, from pole to pole.
The world’s air conditioner is on the fritz. Unprecedented, record-breaking warmth in the Arctic this year triggered declines in sea ice, snow, the Greenland ice sheet and a remarkable delay in the annual freeze of sea ice in the fall. Overall, the Arctic experienced its warmest year ever recorded. “Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic research program, which released its annual Arctic Report Card on Tuesday.
Evidence buried in Greenland's bedrock shows the island's massive ice sheet melted nearly completely at least once in the last 2.6 million years. This suggests that Greenland's ice may be less stable than previously believed. “Our study puts Greenland back on the endangered ice-sheet map,” says Joerg Schaefer, a palaeoclimatologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and co-author of a paper published on December 7 in Nature.
President Barack Obama responded to appeals from Alaska Native villages and gave them more of a say in the federal management of marine resources of the Bering Sea. Obama signed an executive order Friday to create a Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area that will focus "locally tailored" protections on marine resources. The newly created resilience area covers 112,300 square miles and stretches from north of the Bering Strait to north of Bristol Bay. The order requires more focused federal consultation with Alaska tribes and 39 communities that line the west coast of Alaska, along with state officials. The area supports what may be the world's largest annual marine mammal migration of bowhead and beluga whales, Pacific walrus, ice seals and migratory birds.
Emblematic of the effects of climate change, polar bears have once again been shown to be highly vulnerable due to shrinking sea ice levels throughout the range of their habitat. A study published Wednesday by an international team of researchers found a 71 percent chance that over 30 percent of Earth’s polar bear population could be gone in 35-41 years.
Passengers simmered in Jacuzzis and feasted on gourmet cuisine this summer as the 850-foot cruise ship Crystal Serenity moved through the Northwest Passage. But in the summer of 1778, when Capt. James Cook tried to find a Western entrance to the route, his men toiled on frost-slicked decks and complained about having to supplement dwindling rations with walrus meat. The British expedition was halted north of the Bering Strait by "ice which was as compact as a wall and seemed to be 10 or 12 feet high at least," according to the captain's journal.
Global warming’s transformation of the Arctic is having a cascading effect, with some changes to the region worsening others. The loss of sea ice is the most visible, and temperatures almost 40 degrees above normal certainly garner attention. However, there are other important changes such as the loss of permafrost, the collapse of certain species in the food chain and the damage to fisheries caused by higher sea temperatures.Perhaps more troubling is that those changes are often interlinked, and one shift can trigger a series of others, a new report has found.
The sun set on the North Pole more than a month ago, not to rise again until spring. Usually that serves as a cue for sea ice to spread its frozen tentacles across the Arctic Ocean. But in the depths of the polar night, a strange thing started to happen in mid-October. Sea ice growth slowed to a crawl and even started shrinking for a bit. Intense warmth in both the air and oceans is driving the mini-meltdown at a time when Arctic sea ice should be rapidly growing. This follows last winter, when temperatures saw a huge December spike.
Publishing in Nature Communications and featured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science Jeff Pierce and graduate student Jack Kodros present evidence linking ammonia emissions from summertime Arctic seabird-colony excrement, called guano, to newly formed atmospheric aerosol particles. These particles can in turn influence Arctic cloud properties and their effects on climate.
The narwhal is not an aquatic unicorn. It’s not magical, or mythical. It’s just a whale with two teeth, one of which happens to be really long on males. But it’s not just its snaggletooth — which can be up to nine feet long — that makes this Arctic sea creature unbelievable. The narwhal sees with sound — and it’s exceptionally good at it too, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
Driving a gas-powered car about 90 miles — the distance between New York and Philadelphia — melts about a square foot of Arctic sea ice in the critical month of September, according to a new study that directly links carbon pollution to the amount of ice that's thawing. At current carbon emission levels, the Arctic will likely be free of sea ice in September around mid-century, which could make weather even more extreme and strand some polar animals, a study published Thursday in the journal Science finds.
A new study published today in Scientific Reports by University of Delaware researchers and colleagues reveals that 100 feet below the surface of the ocean is a critical depth for ecological activity in the Arctic polar night—a period of near continuous winter darkness.