Monday, April 20, 2009

Arctic's Indigenous Peoples Meeting in Anchorage

"Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to the global problem of climate change but will almost certainly bear the greatest brunt of its impact," said Patricia Cochran, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an organization representing approximately 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka in Russia. The council is hosting the event.

Organizers said the summit will conclude Friday with a declaration and an action plan, and a call to governments around the world to include indigenous people in any new regimes on climate change.

Conference recommendations will be presented to the Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December.

The problems of climate change are real and pressing for many, organizers say. Take the case of Newtok, a village of about 325 people in western Alaska. The Ninglick River is rapidly consuming the land around the Yupik village, forcing residents to relocate to higher ground.

"The global warming is really strong," said Newtok resident Stanley Tom, one of the conference delegates. "The whole village is sinking right now."

Tom said with the increase in temperature, the permafrost has become extremely delicate and the tundra now is prone to tearing if vehicles run over it in the summer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

President Obama Makes Bold Prague Statement

"Together we must confront climate change by ending the world's dependency on fossil fuels by tapping the power from the sources of energy like the wind and the sun and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort the US is now ready to lead."

Let's hold him to it. It will take all of us doing our parts and replacing representatives in election cycles when necessary. This is an urgent situation with climate change accelerating and time of the essence.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Arctic's Positive Feedback Loop

This to me is the simplest way to illustrate what is happening in the Arctic. The polar ice cap reflects the sun's energy back into space. But there is now less older ice and more open water in the melt season (darker, absorbs energy as heat). More new ice forms in freezing season. It replaces older ice but is less thick. Breaks up easier in summer, more light penetration, more heat....feeds on itself....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Arctic Sea Ice Thinner + Positive Feedback Loop

This data visualization from the AMSR-E instrument on the Aqua satellite show the maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, which occurred on Feb. 28, 2009. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Until recently, the majority of Arctic sea ice survived at least one summer and often several. But things have changed dramatically, according to a team of University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists led by Charles Fowler. Thin seasonal ice — ice that melts and re-freezes every year — makes up about 70 percent of the Arctic sea ice in wintertime, up from 40 to 50 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. Thicker ice, which survives two or more years, now comprises just 10 percent of wintertime ice cover, down from 30 to 40 percent.

According to researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, reached on Feb. 28, was 15.2 million square kilometers (5.85 million square miles). That is 720,000 square kilometers (278,000 square miles) less than the average extent for 1979 to 2000.

“Ice extent is an important measure of the health of the Arctic, but it only gives us a two-dimensional view of the ice cover,” said Walter Meier, research scientist at the center and the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Thickness is important, especially in the winter, because it is the best overall indicator of the health of the ice cover. As the ice cover in the Arctic grows thinner, it grows more vulnerable to melting in the summer.”