Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

November 7, 2019 by  
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Snøhetta has unveiled preliminary designs for The Arc, a proposed visitor center for Arctic preservation storage on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a remote island north of the Arctic Circle. Commissioned by Arctic Memory AS, the visitor center will provide a digital glimpse inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — the world’s largest secure seed storage — as well as a look at the contents of the Arctic World Archive, a vault for preserving the world’s digital heritage. Powered by solar energy, The Arc will not only educate visitors about the importance of resource preservation but will also inspire a call to action on global warming. Located in Longyearbyen, The Arc — named in reference to its location in the Arctic — will comprise two visually distinct volumes: an entrance building and an exhibition building. Built of cross-laminated timber and clad in charred wood and dark glass, the low-lying entrance building will house a lobby, ticketing, wardrobe and a cafe as well as facilities for the Arctic World Archive and technical rooms. The building will also be elevated off the ground to prevent heating of permafrost and snow accumulation, and it will be topped with rooftop solar panels. Related: Rising temperatures are putting the Global Seed Vault at risk In contrast to the dark entrance building, the exhibition building will be tall and conical with an all-white facade that looks as though it were formed by the forces of erosion. The exhibition building is connected to the entrance building via a glass access bridge that provides views of the towering geological formations to the south as well as a stunning landscape to the north. The vertical vault of the exhibition building houses a powerful digital archive with permanent and temporary exhibits and an environment that mimics the experience of being inside one of the real vaults. Visitors can experience the vaults’ contents via wall projections managed with touchscreens, VR experiences and other physical and digital exhibit elements. At the heart of the vault is the ceremony room, a conditioned auditorium with a large deciduous tree symbolizing the vegetation that once grew on Svalbard millions of years ago when the temperatures were 5 to 8 degrees Celsius higher. “At the current rate of carbon emissions, temperatures could rise high enough for a forest to grow again on Svalbard within only 150-200 years,” the architects said. “The tree in the ceremony room is both a symbol of the past and a call to action — a living icon for global warming and our responsibility to preserve the Arctic, and all of nature, for future generations.” + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta and Plomp

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Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

October 29, 2019 by  
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Five new Russian islands have emerged from the mass melting of glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic region. The islands were first spotted in 2016 by the Russian Navy via satellite imagery and were recently confirmed and mapped during an expedition this past August and September. Frequency of ice melt glaringly warns of climate impacts that are hitting harder and sooner than anticipated. Temperature changes stemming from global warming have adversely affected the Arctic. According to a September United Nations report , glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are diminishing “and will continue to do so.” Similarly, Arctic sea ice has declined every month, “and it is getting thinner.” If greenhouse gas emissions levels continue to rise, the UN anticipates that around 70 percent of permafrost could be lost by 2100. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Of the five yet unnamed islands, the smallest measures 900 square meters, and the largest measures 54,500 square meters. Their emergence highlights the UN’s warning that the period from 2015 to 2019 registered the most glacier loss of any five-year timespan. “Mainly this is, of course, caused by changes to the ice situation,” confirmed Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, who was the expedition leader. “Before, these were glaciers; we thought they were part of the main glacier. Melting, collapse and temperature changes led to these islands being uncovered.” The new islands are located in proximity to the Vylki glacier , off the coast of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, just northwest of the Russian mainland. Video footage provided by the Russian expedition revealed seabirds, walruses and polar bears already populating the islands’ shores. Interestingly, the shrinking northern ice cap has opened up sea lanes in the Arctic, making them more navigable. The discovery of these five new islands amidst the accelerated receding of the ice caps will therefore have geopolitical and consequent environmental implications, since the Arctic may well become, in the future, a much-contested highway and natural resource center of oil, natural gas , mineral deposits and even immense fisheries. Via CNN Image via Christopher Michel

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Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

October 29, 2019 by  
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After recently announcing its first success at collecting plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , The Ocean Cleanup team is widening efforts by addressing the main entry point of litter — rivers. To tackle the 1,000 rivers responsible for about 80 percent of global ocean plastic pollution, the nonprofit has deployed a new invention, the Interceptor. The Interceptor catches and collects plastic junk, preventing its flow from rivers into oceans. “To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two things. One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution , the stuff that has been accumulating for decades and doesn’t go away by itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” shared Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup. “Rivers are the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch Development of the Interceptor began in 2015. As the company’s first scalable solution to stop the river rush of plastic entering oceans, the device is shaped like a catamaran and houses an anchor, conveyor belt, barge and dumpsters. It operates autonomously and can extract 50,000 kilograms of trash per day before needing to be emptied. The Interceptor is 100 percent solar-powered and operates 24/7 without noise or exhaust fumes. It is positioned where it does not interfere with vessel traffic nor harm the safety and movement of wildlife. How does it work? The Interceptor is anchored to the riverbed at the mouth of a river flowing to the ocean. With an on-board computer connected to the internet, it continually monitors performance, energy usage and component health. Guided by the Interceptor’s barrier, plastic waste flowing downstream is directed into the device’s aperture, where a conveyor belt delivers the debris to the shuttle. The shuttle then distributes the refuse across six dumpsters that are equally filled to capacity via sensor data. When capacity is almost full, the Interceptor automatically sends a text message alert to local operators to remove the barge and empty the dumpsters. The plastic pollution will be transported to local waste management facilities, and the barge will be returned to the Interceptor for another cycle. To date, three Interceptors are already operational in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Dominican Republic will receive the next Interceptor in the pipeline, while other countries are on the waitlist. In the United States, Los Angeles is finalizing agreements for an Interceptor of its own in the near future. A single Interceptor is currently priced at 700,000 euros (about $777,000). As production increases, Slat has said the cost will drop over time. Of course, the benefits of removing plastic far outweigh the cost of creating the devices. Slat explained, “Deploying Interceptors is even cheaper than deploying nothing at all.” + The Ocean Cleanup Image via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

August 27, 2019 by  
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The Amazon and the Arctic are burning, Greenland and Antarctica are melting, and longstanding concerns such as plastic waste, air pollution and water security that don’t seem to be getting better. How do you stay positive?

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The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

Antarctica loses record amount of ice

July 3, 2019 by  
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A new study using satellite images of Antarctica reveals a remarkable spike in ice melt over the last five years. Although the extent of the ice was expanding since 1974, after 2014, Antarctica lost nearly 810,815 square miles of ice. Scientists aren’t ready to point their fingers at climate change as the culprit, but regardless of what is to blame, the loss in ice has an enormous impact on the South Pole’s ecosystem. “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” said the author of the study , climatologist Claire Parkinson. There was a similar massive retreat of ice in the 1970s, which is why researchers aren’t sure if this is due to global warming — and if it is permanent. Despite the overall loss in ice over the past five years, there was some growth in 2017; scientists are hopeful that this could be part of the relatively normal cycling of ice. Related: NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Regardless of what caused it and whether or not it is gone forever, the loss in ice is bad news for local species and for global warming in the rest of the world. “Sea ice also affects the polar ecosystem, including penguins and whales and seals, petrels and albatrosses, krill, and a whole range of additional animals and marine plant life,” Parkinson said. In addition, ice reflects about 50 to 70 percent of the sun’s rays back out into space, which helps keep the Earth’s surface cool. By comparison, EcoWatch reported that the dark blue ocean absorbs 90 percent of light. “The plunge in the average annual extent means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years,” tweeted a concerned Greta Thunberg. Via EcoWatch Image via John B. Weller / The Pew Charitable Trusts / U.S. Department of State

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US stops Arctic Council joint statement over climate change language

May 8, 2019 by  
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On May 7, the Arctic Council released a statement of various priorities, but for the first time it could not publish a joint declaration, reportedly due to push-back from the U.S. over climate change language. The Arctic Council is comprised of indigenous leaders and eight nations, including the U.S., Canada, Finland, Russia, China, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. After meetings in Rovaniemi, Finland, the group released its disjointed statement, but it could not agree on a declaration of urgent challenges and strategies for the next two years. “A majority of us regarded climate change as a fundamental challenge facing the Arctic and acknowledged the urgent need to take mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience,” the chair of the meeting, Finnish Minister Timo Soini, said in the statement. Minister Soini refused to point fingers at which nations would not acknowledge climate change as a fundamental challenge. Related: 1 million species are at risk of extinction, says new UN report Indigenous leaders argue that climate change is indeed the most pressing issue in the Arctic and should be a primary focus. Scientists suggest that temperatures are rising twice as fast  fast in the Arctic region than in the rest of the world. Melting ice is contributing to sea level rise in low-lying countries, but it is also creating new shipping routes and opening access to undiscovered oil reserves. The Arctic contains 13 percent of the world’s untapped oil and 30 percent of natural gas reserves. This fossil fuel wealth makes it a controversial region, and development there is highly sought after, particularly by world powers like the U.S., China and Russia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed too many versions of the declaration as the reason the Council could not reach an consensus, and spent most of his floor time pointing fingers at Russia and China for going against previous agreements and rendering them ineffective. + Arctic Council Via Reuters Image via  Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard / U.S. Geological Survey

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US stops Arctic Council joint statement over climate change language

How Climate Modeling Helps Us Understand Climate Change

February 19, 2019 by  
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This article is part of a series of Arctic ice … The post How Climate Modeling Helps Us Understand Climate Change appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How Climate Modeling Helps Us Understand Climate Change

How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

November 26, 2018 by  
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This is the first of a series of Arctic ice … The post How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day) appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

Migratory barnacle geese threatened by rapidly rising Arctic temperatures

July 20, 2018 by  
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Migrating barnacle geese that lay their eggs in the Arctic zones of northern Russia are becoming confounded by earlier springs in their traditional nesting grounds, according to a study published in Current Biology . The rising temperatures in the Arctic circles caused by global warming are threatening the survival of this species, which travels more than 3,000 km, or 1,800 miles, to reach their nesting territory. The research , released in May 2018, noted that the geese habitually make the month-long journey from parts of northern Germany and the Netherlands based on a biologically coordinated schedule now jeopardized by human activity. Rapid environmental changes have caused the animals to speed up their flight plans. Related: Arctic shipping routes could threaten “unicorns of the sea” Bart Nolet, member of the research team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and the University of Amsterdam, told NPR , “They actually depart from the wintering areas around the same date regardless of whether it’s early or late spring in the Arctic ,” because they “cannot predict what the weather is or what the season is up there from 3,000 kilometers distance.” This causes the geese to speed up their inherent migration pattern mid-flight, after they realize that the temperature is too warm. They complete the arduous expedition in only a week, leaving them exhausted. Originally, the birds used to arrive and lay their eggs just as the winter snow melted. By the time their goslings hatched, plants began to grow, resulting in a “food peak” for the animals. Now, both adult and baby barnacle geese must bear the hardships of malnourishment. Despite rushing their migration and flying “nearly nonstop from the wintering areas to their breeding grounds,” according to Nolet, the 10 days needed after migration to find food and recover from exhaustion still puts the birds behind schedule. The geese cannot lay their eggs straightaway. Instead, after their expedited journey, they must rest and forage for food to ensure their own survival and the vitality of their offspring — ultimately the determining factor in the continuance of their species. + Current Biology Via NPR Images via Gennady Alexandrov

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Migratory barnacle geese threatened by rapidly rising Arctic temperatures

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