Arctic sea ice is filled with record levels of microplastics

April 25, 2018 by  
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Even the Arctic can’t escape plastic pollution . Scientists gathered ice samples from five distinct regions in the Arctic Ocean , and some of those samples contained over 12,000 microplastic particles per liter of ice – a record-breaking amount. All told, they uncovered 17 different kinds of plastic , including paints and packaging. A team of 9 scientists at Alfred Wegener Institute recorded record levels of microplastics, or plastic fragments between a few micrometers to under five millimeters big, in sea ice collected in the Arctic. They gathered these samples aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern in 2014 and 2015. They utilized a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer to scrutinize the ice samples layer by layer to light up microparticles; particles reflect varying wavelengths depending on their ingredients so the scientists could determine their substances. Related: New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected Their methods helped them discover minuscule particles. Scientist Gunnar Gerdts, who runs the laboratory where the researchers carried out measurements, said in a statement , “In this way, we also discovered plastic particles that are tiny 11 microns in size. This is roughly a sixth of the diameter of human hair and was also the key reason why, with more than 12,000 particles per liter of sea ice, we were able to detect two to three times higher plastic concentrations than was the case in a previous study.” 67 percent of the particles in the ice samples fell in the 50 micrometers and below category: the smallest one. Biologist Ilka Peeken said, “We found out in our study that more than half of the microplastic particles trapped in the ice were smaller than one-twentieth of a millimeter and thus easily eaten by Arctic microorganisms such as crayfish, but also copepods.” This is concerning, she said, because “so far no one can say to what extent these tiny plastic particles harm the sea dwellers or end up even endangering humans.” The journal Nature Communications published the research this week. + Alfred Wegener Institute + Nature Communications Images via Tristan Vankaan , Mar Fernandez , and Stefan Hendricks

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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

Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic

February 14, 2017 by  
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As governments make slow progress towards alleviating climate change and denial marks the Trump Administration’s approach to the global crisis, scientists have hatched a crazy $500 billion scheme to refreeze the Arctic . Led by physicist Steven Desch of Arizona State University , a team of 14 scientists concocted a plan to replenish Arctic sea ice using ten million wind-powered pumps. The strategy involves deploying millions of renewably-powered pumps to send water onto the surface of Arctic ice during the winter. In theory, that water would then freeze, thickening the ice before summer. Desch said the pumps could add around three feet to the current layer of sea ice . If the ice is thicker, he argued, it would last longer and reduce the danger of sea ice vanishing completely during the summer. Related: Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded The paper’s abstract states that the Arctic could be utterly devoid of summer sea ice by the year 2030. If that occurs, the ocean would absorb the sunlight it once reflected – so replenishing sea ice now is an imperative. The paper goes on to state that the 2015 Paris agreement won’t be enough to halt the consequences of global warming . Desch told the Observer, “Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels . It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.” The American Geophysical Union ‘s journal Earth’s Future published their study in late January. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Crazy low Arctic sea ice levels will likely smash records this summer

June 10, 2016 by  
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Arctic sea ice levels continue to plummet. Researchers from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center tracking sea ice levels have found results that aren’t too surprising: Arctic sea ice extent is likely to break records for the lowest level this summer. Data from May revealed Arctic sea ice extent levels were ” two to four weeks ahead ” of the levels in 2012, the year that currently holds the dubious record. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center , the “average ice loss” every day in May was around 23,600 square miles. That’s far faster than the 1981-2010 average, which was 18,000 square miles daily. Another factor to take into account is the type of ice . “Multiyear ice” is ice that doesn’t melt and helps keep Arctic ocean temperatures cool. If that ice melts – and it is right now – next winter there will only be “first-year ice” which then melts easier than multiyear ice. If there’s not as much multiyear ice, Arctic ocean temperatures will likely warm. According to Gizmodo, the Arctic is warming up at ” twice the rate ” as other areas on earth. Related: Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again Are there any weather patterns that can help explain these crazy low numbers? The National Snow and Ice Data Center noted that winds from Alaska and northern Europe bringing “pulses of warm air” led to “hot spots” across the Arctic. Central Siberia was the only area where temperatures were lower than the average recorded between 1981-2010. Then there’s the “early retreat” in the Beaufort Sea of ice – and as more ice melts, the Arctic warms . According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the numbers are “tentative” due to the “preliminary nature” of satellite data. However, they’re backed up by other sources, and it’s probable we’ll watch those numbers continue to plummet. Via Gizmodo Images via Land Atmosphere Near-Real Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) System, NASA/GSFC ; W. Meier, NASA ; and National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again

March 29, 2016 by  
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Arctic ice  continues to dwindle down to levels that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. According to data gathered by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center , Arctic sea ice levels this winter were the lowest on record since we started snapping satellite images in 1979. Scientists are afraid the low level trends will persist , and now predict that in the next 20 to 25 years , there may not be any ice at all in the Arctic during the summer months. Read the rest of Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again

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Climate Change is Greening the Arctic and That’s Not a Good Thing

April 1, 2013 by  
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Image via Shutterstock Normally news about greening spaces has a positive connotation, but when it comes to the Arctic , a greener landscape is not a good thing. Researchers published new projection models in the journal Nature Climate Change which reveal that by 2050, the great white north could have as much as double the amount of vegetative cover as it does now as a result of higher temperatures and precipitation changes. Read the rest of Climate Change is Greening the Arctic and That’s Not a Good Thing Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags:

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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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