Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

April 23, 2018 by  
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Can you identify the holes in the sea ice pictured above? If so, let NASA know. They recently posted the image, snapped over the Beaufort Sea, as the April 2018 Puzzler on their “Earth Matters” blog. They aren’t quite sure what caused them, although they ventured a few ideas, including heat, thin ice, and even rogue seals. NASA Operation IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag captured the baffling image from a P-3 research plane soaring over the eastern Beaufort Sea. Sonntag had never seen holes like this before; writing from the field, he said, “We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today. I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.” Related: The first salty lakes discovered in the Arctic could hold the key to finding alien life Before the agency revealed that the photo was from the Arctic , Internet users offered plenty of guesses as to its location – from fires in Oklahoma to the surface of Mars. User Scott Stensland came close when he guessed the circles were open water holes in ice created by ocean mammals, such as seals . Indeed, that’s similar to one answer NASA has come up with: the holes bear a resemblance to photographs of breathing holes harp seals and ring seals have created. National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier told NASA, “The encircling features may be due to waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface. Or it could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice.” Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory sea ice scientist Chris Polashenski told NASA he’d glimpsed features like these holes in the past. Seals could offer one answer; another is convection. University of Maryland at Baltimore County glaciologist Chris Shuman, who’s based at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told NASA, “This is in pretty shallow water generally, so there is every chance this is just ‘warm springs’ or seeps of ground water flowing from the mountains inland that make their presence known in this particular area. The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry , just the way some polynyas form.” + NASA Earth Observatory + Curious Circles in Arctic Sea Ice Images via John Sonntag/Operation IceBridge/NASA and NASA/Joe MacGregor

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Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

This great ape species was discovered 6 months ago and it’s already threatened by a dam

April 23, 2018 by  
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The Tapanuli orangutan was only discovered six months ago — and it’s already under threat of extinction from human development. Only 800 Tapanuli orangutans live in the wild today — however state-run Chinese company Sinohydro plans to construct a dam in northern Sumatra that will result in the deforestation of the orangutan’s habitat. If completed, the dam could pose an existential danger to the animals. Researchers fear that the construction of the  510 megawatt dam in the fragile Batang Toru ecosystem will result in the extinction of certain communities within the already vulnerable Tapanuli population. “Building the dam means chopping the orangutan population in half,” Borneo Futures director and orangutan expert Erik Meijaard told The Guardian . “You end up with two smaller populations, and these will have much reduced chances of survival, because a small population is more likely to go extinct than a large one.” Although Sinohydro did not include the orangutan in its environmental management plan, the Indonesian government approved the project. “The impact will not just be the destruction of the habitat where they want to build the dam and roads, tunnel, electricity lines,” scientist Gabriella Fredriksson explained to the Guardian , “but it will cause the extinction of two of the three sub-populations, and in addition create access and destroy the most important habitat of the only viable population left.” Related: UK researchers are developing an orangutan-safe alternative to palm oil “The Indonesian government needs to respect its own laws,” Meijaard said. “Orangutans are protected species. The Indonesian law clearly prohibits any actions that harm a protected species or its nests. It is obvious that the hydrodam is harming a protected species, so why does the government allow this?” Instead of building a dam, researcher Serge Wich suggested that the government pursue a geothermal project farther north from the orangutan habitat. According to Wich, this proposed project could yield one gigawatt of power, significantly more than the dam. The newly discovered orangutans are suffering under a broader extinction crisis, in which the large mammals of Sumatra, such as the Sumatran tiger , the Sumatran rhino and the Sumatran elephant have become critically endangered. Via The Guardian Images via Tim Laman and Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

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This great ape species was discovered 6 months ago and it’s already threatened by a dam

New plastic garbage patch discovered in Arctic Ocean

April 20, 2017 by  
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the only place where plastic pollution is gathering in the world’s oceans . An international team of scientists from 12 institutions in eight countries recently discovered a new garbage patch in the Greenland and Barents seas north of Norway. Between 100 and 1,200 tons of plastic have concentrated there, threatening wildlife already grappling with climate change . The Tara Expeditions Foundation dragged for plastic in the Arctic Ocean to find the new Arctic garbage patch. They visited 42 sites, and found over a third of the locations didn’t have any plastic. But then they found plastic amassing in Arctic waters above Norway. The garbage patch is smaller than the Pacific or Mediterranean garbage patches, but researchers hadn’t anticipated finding so much trash in that part of the Arctic, previously considered to be quite pristine. Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain told The Verge, “We did not expect to find high concentrations of plastic there, so far from the populated regions and the large sources of plastic pollution.” He’s the lead author on a study published online yesterday in the journal Science Advances . So where’s all the trash coming from? Europe and America’s East Coast are likely at fault. Study co-author Erik van Sebille, who during the research was with Imperial College London and now works for the Netherlands’ Utrecht University , told The Verge, “If a plastic bottle or a plastic bag gets into the Atlantic from Europe or the East Coast of the U.S., that has a very good chance of ending up in the Arctic. The problem with plastic specifically being in the Arctic is that it’s going to get into the food chain of animals that are very much under threat already, that are struggling to survive in a changing climate.” Via The Verge Images © Anna Deniaud/Tara Expeditions Foundation

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Large section of Arctic Ocean is six times more acidic than 20 years ago

March 16, 2017 by  
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Ocean acidification is increasing rapidly in the Arctic Ocean . New research from an international team reveals between the 1990’s and 2010, the area of acidified water expanded northward by around 300 nautical miles from near Alaska nearly up to the North Pole . The depth of acidified waters hiked up too, from around 325 feet to more than 800 feet. 13 scientists from institutions in China, Sweden, and the United States scrutinized data from the 1990’s up through 2010 to see how acidification has escalated in the Arctic Ocean, and they found both area and depth of acidified waters spread. Acidity in the area is six times greater than it was 20 years ago. Paper co-author Wei-Jun Cai of the University of Delaware said in a statement, “The Arctic Ocean is the first ocean where we see such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.” The journal Nature Climate Change published their research online in late February. Related: Melting Arctic Seas are Turning into Giant Pools of Acid, Researchers Warn There are a few possible reasons for such rapid acidification. One is the lack of summer sea ice ; water is exposed to the atmosphere for lengthier periods of time now and therefore has more time to absorb acidifying gas like carbon dioxide . Currents in the atmosphere have also sent Pacific Ocean water, which tends to be more acidic, into the Canada Basin. Co-author Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the combination of those two phenomenon likely led to the speedy acidification. Naturally the news isn’t great for marine life. Feely said mussels, clams, and small sea snails may have a hard time maintaining or building their shells in acidified waters. As sea snails in particular are an important source of food in the Arctic food web, sustaining herring and salmon, their decline could impact the rest of the marine ecosystem . Via the University of Delaware and the Toronto Star Images via Pixabay and Tammy Beeson/University of Delaware

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Large section of Arctic Ocean is six times more acidic than 20 years ago

Obama administration just protected the Arctic and Atlantic from drilling until 2022

November 18, 2016 by  
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With only two months left in office, President Obama’s administration just finalized its program for oil and gas leasing , and it will ensure protections for the Arctic and Atlantic oceans until 2022. In what is considered a major win for coastal regions and marine wildlife, these areas will not be subject to dangerous oil or gas drilling until climate change-denier and fossil fuel-guzzling proponent Donald Trump has completed his term in office – and perhaps even beyond. “Coastal businesses, fishermen, and marine life learned the lesson after the BP disaster that when you drill, you spill,” said Heather Leibowitz, the Director for Environment New York . “We are thrilled the Atlantic is protected for the next five years and adding protection for the Arctic makes the victory that much sweeter.” The road to such protections was a long one, beginning with the initial 2017 to 2022 Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan proposed in January of last year. This version of the plan left coastal regions from Virginia to North Carolina vulnerable, as well as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean. Related: Obama to target Arctic and Atlantic oil drilling in fight against climate change The final plan cancelled leases for these areas for the next five years, yet left behind 10 leases in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a National Resources Defense Council survey , a majority of American oppose oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. Leibowitz says more and more citizens are becoming aware of the dangers of offshore drilling, so there may still be hope for the Gulf’s future. She adds, “The only safe amount of drilling for our climate and communities is none at all – that is why President Obama should extend permanent protection for the Atlantic and Arctic oceans before leaving office.” Via  Environment New York Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Obama administration just protected the Arctic and Atlantic from drilling until 2022

Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

June 16, 2015 by  
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Arctic polar bears have been forced to rethink their diet as a result of climate change. No, they aren’t considering vegetarianism to help offset the droughts in other parts of the world. Instead, they have been feasting on frozen white-beaked dolphins who have found themselves trapped in the surrounding ice. This practice was previously unheard of, since this species of dolphin doesn’t usually venture so far north in the Arctic Ocean during the winter or spring months. With fewer seals to hunt, bears in the region are availing themselves of an unexpected source of sustenance. Read the rest of Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ocean , Climate Change , global warming , polar bear eats dolphin , polar bears , sea level rising , svalbard islands , white-beaked dolphin

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Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

June 16, 2015 by  
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Arctic polar bears have been forced to rethink their diet as a result of climate change. No, they aren’t considering vegetarianism to help offset the droughts in other parts of the world. Instead, they have been feasting on frozen white-beaked dolphins who have found themselves trapped in the surrounding ice. This practice was previously unheard of, since this species of dolphin doesn’t usually venture so far north in the Arctic Ocean during the winter or spring months. With fewer seals to hunt, bears in the region are availing themselves of an unexpected source of sustenance. Read the rest of Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ocean , Climate Change , global warming , polar bear eats dolphin , polar bears , sea level rising , svalbard islands , white-beaked dolphin

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Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

10,000 Walruses Come Ashore in Alaska as Arctic Sea Ice Declines

October 3, 2013 by  
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In an extraordinary phenomenon, an estimated 10,000 walruses have gathered on a small barrier island near Point Lay in Alaska. Spotted by scientists from NOAA last Friday, the walruses have come ashore as shrinking Arctic sea ice leaves the mammals without areas on which to give birth, and without diving platforms from which they can hunt. While a dramatic and horrifying commentary on the effects of global warming, the massive gathering of walruses also poses a threat to the safety of the young among the herd. Read the rest of 10,000 Walruses Come Ashore in Alaska as Arctic Sea Ice Declines Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alaska , Arctic , arctic ocean , barrier island , Climate Change , fish and wildlife services , global warming , marine health , marine mammals , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , NOAA , point lay , sea ice , walrus , walruses        

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10,000 Walruses Come Ashore in Alaska as Arctic Sea Ice Declines

US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports Arctic Sea Ice Falls to New Record Low

September 20, 2012 by  
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Back in August, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) ) reported that over 900 cubic kilometers of summer sea ice had disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. At the time, that was a loss 50% greater than figures predicted by most polar scientists . However, now the NSIDC is reporting that the Arctic sea ice has reached its minimum extent for the year, equal to 1.32 million square miles. This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent noted in the satellite record since 1979. Read the rest of US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports Arctic Sea Ice Falls to New Record Low Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ice , arctic ocean , arctic sea ice , arctic summer sea ice , cryosat 2 , esa , european space agency , summer ice , university college of london , us national snow and ice data center

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US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports Arctic Sea Ice Falls to New Record Low

Arctic Sea Ice to Hit Record Low This Month According to US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports

August 23, 2012 by  
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Last week we reported that The European Space Agency’s CryoSat 2 probe had completed its 18-month-long mission and revealed that over 900 cubic kilometers of summer sea ice had disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. That’s a loss 50% greater than figures predicted by most polar scientists. Now scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center have stated that Arctic sea ice is set to hit a record low by the end of this month. Read the rest of Arctic Sea Ice to Hit Record Low This Month According to US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ice , arctic ocean , arctic sea ice , arctic summer sea ice , cryosat 2 , esa , european space agency , summer ice , university college of london , us national snow and ice data center

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Arctic Sea Ice to Hit Record Low This Month According to US National Snow and Ice Data Center Reports

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