Archive for Global Warming
What better way to raise awareness for climate change than get a respected meteorologist to jump off a tall building? Make that meteorologist weatherman Michael Fish MBE and put the tall building in the vibrant city of London during the security blitz of the Olympics and we quickly have to thank the imagination of the Rapanui team who put the whole thing in motion. Rapanui is an eco-clothing brand founded by Rob & Mart Drake-Knight and based on the Isle of Wight. It uses ethically accredited factories that are powered by wind and solar energy and cutting edge eco-textiles from sustainable sources.
The Rapanui team got together with Michael Fish (above) to film the latter BASE (Buildings, Antenna, Spans [bridges], Earth [cliffs]) jumping from a tower block in central London. The resulting video can be viewed above and is highly entertaining (“if anything is going to raise awareness for climate change it is doing damn silly things like this”). In Michael’s own words: “Despite what most people think, my TV career was not based on my stunning good looks. I’m a highly qualified meteorologist - and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change. It’s probably the biggest problem we’ve ever faced and it’s not going away. If we want to live sustainably, we need to take action now, not when it’s too late.”
www.telegraph.co.uk 22nd November 2011
Conservative peer Lord Leach of Fairford has dismissed Sir David Attenborough’s views on climate change as not “worth listening to”. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph’s Tim Walker at the launch of his wife’s book in Holland Park, Lord Fairford said: “he’s very endearing but I don’t think there’s any truth to what he says — he has no idea about it. The fact is you can be jolly nice to monkeys but it isn’t the same as knowing what you’re talking about on climate change.” Lord Leach is a noted climate-sceptic and supports the BBC’s decision to drop an episode of Sir David’s new wildlife series Frozen Planet that focusses on climate change so that the programmes can be better sold abroad. The episode is now an ‘optional extra’, which foreign TV stations can ignore. Lord Leach has had success in gaining public support for his views. He was the chairman for the recent No to AV campaign that saw two-thirds of the British population vote against voting reform.
www.independent.co.uk 26th June 2011
A new report by the Climate Change & European Marine Ecosystem Research on the effects of climate change on European seas has warned of the devastating consequences of decreasing salinity in the Baltic Sea. The report describes how climate change will increase precipitation around the sea causing it to become fresher through runoff. This would have disastrous effects on Baltic sea-life, which is already struggling against pollution and over-fishing. The report, which has collated 13 years worth of research from 17 marine institutes in Europe, also mentions the arrival of a new species of plankton in the North Atlantic, which has been extinct from the ocean for 800,000 years. The plankton comes from the Pacific and has been kept separated from the Atlantic by the Arctic ice. With the ice melting, the alien species of plankton threatens the very foundation of the North Atlantic food-web. A further indication of the Arctic melt was the sighting of a Pacific Grey Whale in the Mediterranean. Other effects of climate change include a possible increase of biodiversity in the Black Sea as Mediterranean species migrate to the warming waters there. Also, highly venomous jellyfish such as the Portuguese Man-of-War are spreading northwards through the North Atlantic as waters warm, forcing beaches to close and threatening young fish stocks.
www.bbc.co.uk 20th June 2011
According to a new report published by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the world’s oceans are in a far worse state than previously recognised. Factors such as over-fishing, pollution, and climate change are working together in a way putting marine life “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction…unprecedented in human history”. IPSO collected together experts in the fields of many marine science disciplines to write the report, including coral-reef specialists, toxicologists, ecologists and fishery specialists. “We’ve ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we’re seeing changes that are happening faster than we’d thought, or in ways that we didn’t expect to see for hundreds of years,” said Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. One of the new areas discussed by the specialists is the problem of plastics in the oceans. Plastic particles, broken down in the marine environment, act as sponges for persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. This increases the toxin uptake rate in fish that mistake plastic for food. These chemicals then bioaccumulate up the food chain causing various harmful effects. Plastic also acts as transport for algae thereby increasing the occurrence of algal blooms. Other problems are ocean acidification and coral bleaching. Five “mass extinction events” are known to have occurred in the earth’s history and, although the report says it is too early to tell, IPSO say that if mankind continues to exploit the oceans as we are, then we will cause the sixth.
Cairn Energy, based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, have been at the forefront of Arctic oil exploration with its rig Leiv Eiriksson and one other already in operation off the coast of Greenland. However, the company has repeatedly refused to reveal its plans in the event of an oil spill similar to the Deepwater Horizon explosion off the US Coast last year. In response to the company’s refusal, Greenpeace launched an ambitious raid on the Leiv rig in order to ask workers if they had heard of the plan. 18 activists in 5 outriggers managed to evade Danish naval patrol vessels and reach the rig from where the Greenpeace ship Esperanza was moored just outside the 500m exclusion zone established by the Danish authorities. All the protestors have since been arrested and their mission to discover the disaster plans proved to be futile with all crew denying its even existence. Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe, speaking from on board the Leiv Eiriksson, said, ”It’s obvious why Cairn won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it can’t be done. Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deep water blow-out in this stunning pristine environment would be an irreversible disaster. If they published the plan, the dangers of investing in such a high risk venture would be laid bare.” Cairn energy are now seeking to make Greenpeace protests illegal through the Danish courts.
www.bbc.co.uk 6th April 2011
One of the less contentious forms of geo-engineering, or the deliberate changing of the earth’s climate to reduce climate change, would see clouds sprayed with seawater to make them whiter thereby reflecting more of the sun’s energy. However, new research by the European Geosciences Union has found that depending on the size of the water droplets, the action could have a warming effect, rather than a cooling one. The theory was thought up in the 1990s by John Latham, now of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, USA. It has since been championed by numerous academics as one of the less environmentally detrimental forms of geo-engineering to combat global warming (see here for other proposed methods). One version of the idea would see wind-powered ships sail the oceans were reflective stratocumulus clouds are scarce. They would then spray a constant spray of seawater into the atmosphere where tiny salt crystals would act as nuclei around which water would vaporise and create clouds. However, Kari Alterskjaer of the European Geosciences Union has claimed that the wrong-sized water droplets would actually decrease cloud cover. There is a fine balance between too large, which would just fall back down from the sky, and too small, which would influence particles already in the sky. Geo-engineering is one of the more dramatic ways researchers are studying to limit the effects of global warming.
www.latimes.com 4th April 2011
A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley who embarked on a study to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming are finding that their results are actually supporting the existence of the phenomenon. Led by Professor Richard Muller, a long-term sceptic of climate studies, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was intended to challenge perceived over-exaggeration on the extent of global warming. But to the surprise of the project’s supporters, and researchers, Prof. Muller announced to a congressional hearing that the commonly used temperature trends underlying climate science are ”excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” The news will certainly annoy the project’s biggest private backers, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Charles and David Koch are oil billionaires and the most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs of burning fossil fuels. The statement by Prof. Muller is likely to exasperate the current political battle in the US over whether the Environmental Protection Agency should have the power to curb planet-heating emissions from industry and transport. The professor has cautioned that his statement is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements his project is going through.
www.telegraph.co.uk 4th February 2011
The Amazonian rainforest has been struck by two severe floods in the past six years causing a large number of trees to die. The first hit in 2005 and was described as a 1 in a 100 year event. However, new research of 5.3 million square kilometres of forest by a team led by Dr Simon Lewis from the University of Leeds has discovered that another drought last year may have been even worse. The first drought alone was responsible for releasing 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to rotting vegetation and the forest’s reduced capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (the Amazon usually absorbs about 1.5 billion tonnes annually). The second brought the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon to its lowest recorded level. If these droughts continue the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, believe that the Amazon forest could go from being carbon absorber to a carbon emitter.
www.latimes.com 29th January 2011
The US Geological Survey has tracked a female polar bear swimming for 426 miles in order to find an ice-flow in the Beaufort Sea. The epic journey took 9 days and came at a heavy cost. It was reported that she set out with her cub but the little one did not survive the trip. Furthermore, the length of her swim resulted in the bear losing 22% of her body weight. With little in the way of food at her destination, it is unlikely she will be able to recover. The marathon journey is yet another example of the extent ice is melting in the arctic region due to climate change. During the autumn open water periods in the region, polar bears are subject to either fasting on land until the ice reforms or swimming for ice-flows to find seals. With dramatic reduction in the size of ice-flows over the past few years, polar bears are finding it increasingly difficult to swim for food. The example of this 9-day swim is the most extreme recorded for the species. ”We have observed other long-distance swimming events. I don’t believe any of them have been as long in time and distance as what we observed with her,” George M. Durner, a USGS zoologist, said. The Obama administration has designated a 187,000 square miles of Alaska as a protection zone for the endangered polar bears but US District Judge Emmet G. Sulivan has ruled that the species must be in “imminent” danger of extinction before being given the status of endangered. The court battle between conservationist groups and oil and gas companies over this issue continues in February. If polar bears are declared endangered then the US will have to reduce its carbon emissions to protect the species.
www.telegraph.co.uk 11th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The cause of the major political story of last week – the row over tuition fees, students rioting and all – was, as we all know, “public spending cuts”. But how much money does the Government actually hope to save on tuition fees? If the immediate problem is our massive state deficit, it seems odd that the Government should risk such unpopularity, not for any immediate saving, but in the hope that it will get the money back over the next 30 years, as students can afford to repay it. In the short term, the Government’s own projection as to how much it will save is that the funding of university tuition will be cut by £2.9 billion by 2014. As it happens, £2.9 billion is the sum ring-fenced, by the same public spending review, to be given to developing countries to help them fight global warming with windmills and solar panels. It is also slightly less than the £3 billion by which our public debt is rising every week. These much-vaunted “cuts” are not all we are led to believe.’
www.bbc.co.uk 11th December 2010
A compromise has been reached at the climate summit in Cancun. A draft paper drawn up by the hosts of the summit, Mexico, found unexpected support among the countries that have caused the biggest problems in finding a successor to the Kyoto treaty, namely China, Japan, and the USA. As the spokespeople of each of these three stood up to endorse the paper, which states that carbon reductions are necessary and also establishes a fund to help poorer countries in their fight against the effects of global warming, other delegates cheered. The Green Climate Fund will spend $100 billion each year on developing low-carbon technologies in poorer nations as well as investing in infrastructure related to tackling the effects of climate change, such as flooding. Also in the paper are parameters to tackle deforestation. However, the deal is a lot less than many hoped for. Although a step up from the disastrous Copenhagen summit last year, it is unsure whether the Cancun deal will be legally binding. Tara Rao, senior policy adviser with WWF, is optimistic however. “There’s enough in it that we can work towards next year’s meeting in South Africa to get a legally binding agreement there,” she said. Bolivia was the most outspoken critic of the deal, with the President reportedly stating the agreement was ‘ecocide and genocide’. The Bolivian delegate has claimed that the deal will still amount to a rise in global temperatures of over 4 degrees C.
e360.yale.edu 8th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Increases in plant growth expected as a result of a projected doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could create a cooling effect that would help reduce future global warming, according to new NASA computer models. Specifically, researchers say that increased leaf growth that occurs when more carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere will likely increase evapotranspiration, which will have a cooling effect. According to the new model, this cooling effect would offset warming temperatures by 0.3 degrees C (0.5 degrees F) globally and 0.6 degrees C (1.1 degrees F) over land, compared to models in which the effects were not included, said Lahouari Bounoua, a researcher at the Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The cooling effect would not be strong enough to offset rising temperatures, Bounoua said, but would temper those increases.’
www.boston.com 6th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a global warming pollution case filed by environmental groups and eight states, including Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. In a 2004 lawsuit, the groups claimed American Electric Power Co. and four other electric power corporations that at the time were the U.S.’s five largest emitters of greenhouse gases were contributing to a public nuisance: Global warming. A New York federal district court ruled against the groups in 2005 but an appeals court overturned that decision last year. Oral arguments are expected in the spring according to Matthew Pawa, a Massachusetts lawyer representing some of the environmental groups.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 29th November 2010
A series of papers published by the Royal Society has revealed that scientists believe current plans to tackle climate change are not enough. Organisations such as Oxford University and the Met Office have contributed to the publication which states that unless more drastic measures are taken global temperatures could rise as much as 4 degrees centigrade by the 2060s. This would cause catastrophic floods, drought, and mass migrations across the world. One drastic example of the severity of the situation, according to the contributors, is from Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who believes that the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while continuing to allow poorer nations to grow, is to stop growth in the developed world for twenty years. This would mean people in countries like the UK and USA would have to live less carbon intensive lifestyles. One way this could be achieved is by adopting a strict rationing system much like that of world war two. Electricity restrictions and less food from abroad are examples of this measure. Other authors wrote that the aim of reducing emissions by 50% relative to 1990 levels by 2050, the target the current climate summit in Cancun hopes to secure, is not enough and will not prevent temperature sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs from being wiped out.
e360.yale.edu 23rd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Chinese officials say international climate talks next week in Mexico will succeed only if wealthy countries are willing to share technologies and funds to help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Western nations had pledged at last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen to pay into a $30 billion fund to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change, details of the fund have not been finalized. Xie Zhenhua, a senior Chinese climate envoy, said that developed nations must cut their emissions “massively” to allow development space for emerging nations. China’s tough negotiating stance comes as a new report shows that emissions from China and other developing countries are having an increasingly significant impact globally. According to the annual Global Carbon Project report, released this week, global carbon emissions dropped only 1.3 percent in 2009, far below the projected 3 percent decrease, largely as a result of emissions increases in China. Greenhouse gas emissions in China reached 7.5 billion tons in 2009, a 9 percent increase.’
e360.yale.edu 28th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Scientists from the United States and Greenland have successfully used satellite tags on narwhals to measure rising ocean temperatures in Baffin Bay. In 2006 and 2007, the scientists outfitted 14 adult narwhals — medium-sized toothed Arctic whales — with satellite tags that recorded ocean temperatures, depths, and location and that transmitted that data to satellites whenever the whales surfaced between the ice in Baffin Bay, west of Greenland. The tags showed that the highest winter ocean temperatures ranged between 4 and 4.6 degrees Celsius (39.2 and 40.3 degrees Fahrenheit), which is nearly a degree Celsius warmer that previous human-collected data showed. The narwhal study, funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also showed that the thickness of a stable layer of sea surface temperatures — which plays an important role in ocean circulation — was 50 to 80 meters thinner than reported in previous climatology data. Scientists said that the narwhals, which dove to a depth of 1,773 meters — more than a mile — provided vital data not only about warming sea temperatures but about possible effects on ocean circulation patterns. “Narwhals proved to be highly efficient and cost-effective ‘biological oceanographers,’ providing wintertime data to fill gaps in our understanding of this important ocean area,” said Kristin Ladre from the University of Washington.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 8th October 2010
New research has revealed another indicator for climate change. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a new report compiled by NASA and several university institutions has stated that 18% more freshwater entered the oceans in 2006 than in 1994. This increase is equivalent to an increase of one Mississippi river every year. It is believed that global warming is a major cause in this rise. A hotter climate means that more water evaporates from the oceans and form clouds over land. It also increases the amount of snow and ice-melt. However, although this may sound like good news in a time where water shortages are a global concern, much of this extra water is flowing where it isn’t needed like in tropical and polar regions. Also, the sheer volume of water means that where it does flow near human habitation, it frequently causes widespread flooding. The recent deluges in Pakistan are an example. The results from the report are the first of their kind and are based on a 13 year study of satellite records of sea-levels, evaporation, and precipitation. The research was led by Jay Famiglietti of the University of California at Irvine.
e360.yale.edu October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The majority of Americans have limited understanding of the planet’s climate system and the causes and threats of climate change, according to a new study by Yale University. Only 1 in 10 of those surveyed by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication said they are “very well informed” about climate change issues. And while 63 percent believe that global warming is occurring, many do not understand why. According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents know that the greenhouse effect refers to heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere; 45 percent understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the planet’s surface; and only 25 percent are aware of coral bleaching or ocean acidification. And the majority of respondents had significant misconceptions about climate science, including the incorrect belief that the hole in the ozone layer, toxic waste, aerosol spray, and acid rain cause global warming. Based on these results, the authors say only 8 percent of respondents would have knowledge equivalent to a grade of an A or B, and more than 52 percent would receive an F grade.’
e360.yale.edu 11th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere have been drying up in the past decade as temperatures have risen in Australia, Africa, and South America, according to the first major study of evapotranspiration on a global basis. The study found that from 1982 to 1998, the evaporation of water from the soil and plants to the atmosphere increased steadily in the Southern Hemisphere as temperatures climbed. But beginning in 1998, the rates of evaporation slowed dramatically in many parts of the Southern Hemisphere as soils became increasingly dry, an indication that the planet’s water cycle is being pushed to the limit, according to the study by U.S. scientists, which was published in the journal Nature. In some regions, rising temperatures have simply removed all of the available moisture from the ground, said Steve Running, an ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and one of the researchers involved in the study. While the moisture returns to the land in the form of rainfall, it often falls in different regions of the planet, leaving some regions increasingly dry, he said.’
www.guardian.co.uk 26th September 2010
There is one scientific discipline who seem to be benefitting the rapid melting of the world’s perma-frosted terrain. The gradual warming of the ground frost has allowed archaeologists to excavate in areas previously not available to them. In doing so they are allowed a rare glimpse of how early humankind survived in these regions. One particularly successful excavation is under way in Norway where the receding ice has revealed hundreds of artefacts dating back several millennia to before the vikings. Most of the items are related to reindeer hunting and have been discovered in the Jotunheimen mountains. Similar discoveries have been found from Alaska to Siberia. However, the ice is melting at such a rate that archaeological teams are in a desperate rush to find revealed sites before frozen artefacts degrade in the warmer air. In most cases the only reason ancient items have survived to the present day is because the ice prevented natural degradation. Without the ice, there is nothing to preserve the items.
www.nytimes.com 20th September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Global warming may have one minor but previously unknown benefit, scientists said this month: it may be cutting down cases of bubonic plague in the United States. About 10 to 20 Americans catch plague each year, and 1 to 3 die of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nowadays, most cases are in the Four Corners area, where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet, and most victims live in rodent-infested rural housing. The plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, lives in the blood of prairie dogs and ferrets, and the fleas that infest those colonies can transfer it to squirrels, rats and mice, who like to live close to humans and their flea-carrying pets. A study in this month’s issue of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene tracked climatic conditions in 195 counties in 13 Western states, from Washington to Texas, that reported even one plague case since 1950. Cases have dropped over time, and the study concluded that rising nighttime temperatures since 1990 had helped. Warmer nights melt winter snowpacks earlier, leading to drier soil in rodent burrows. When the soil gets too dry, fleas die. Still, the authors warn there could be fresh outbreaks as population growth pushes housing deeper into rural areas, closer to the infected animals. Despite the fearsome reputation the disease earned in the Dark Ages, it can be cured with antibiotics if it is caught early enough.’
e360.yale.edu 22nd September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The warming trend on the planet has reached deep into world oceans over the last two decades, particularly in the waters around Antarctica, according to a new study. While earlier studies have shown that the upper levels of the planet’s oceans are getting warmer, scientists with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say their latest research shows that waters at a depth of 3,300 feet and more have absorbed about 16 percent of the heat accumulating in the upper layers of the ocean. While the temperature increase is relatively slight — about 0.02 degrees C per decade in the Southern Ocean, and less elsewhere — researchers say it’s still a significant increase given the massive volume of water involved and the high capacity of water to absorb heat. That temperature increase has not only caused ocean water to expand worldwide, increasing sea levels, but has contributed to the melting of some Antarctic ice sheets, according to the paper, published in the Journal of Climate. Sea levels around Antarctica have increased by 3 millimeters annually — about an eighth of an inch — since 1993.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 22nd September 2010
By studying plant specimens as far back as 1848, researchers from the University of East Anglia and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have discovered a new ecological effect of global warming. Victorian botanists meticulously collecte specimens from around the world and recorded such information as when the flower bloomed. By comparing this data with that of present day, the research team has calculated that for every 1 degree centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) the Earth warms plants flower six days earlier. The test species in this study was the Early Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) but with 2.5 billion plant and animal specimens, dating back as much as 250 years, in natural history collections around the world, this avenue of research has only just begun.
www.nytimes.com 20th September 2010
The intense heat of 2010 has caused widespread coral bleaching from Thailand to Texas. Much of the coral life has already died off threatening some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world as well as fisheries that millions rely upon for sustenance. For years corals have served as a sensitive indicator for ecological stress brought on by climate change. Widespread bleaching has only happened once before and that was during the hottest year on record in 1998. At that time, 16% of the world’s shallow-water reefs died. It certain parts of the world such as Thailand, this figure may be surpassed in 2010. Coral bleaching was documented for the first time in 1983 when a climatic event known as El Nino caused warm waters from the Pacific to flow into Caribbean. 2010 is also an El Nino year. Clive Wilkinson, director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, simply stated: “I am significantly depressed by the whole situation.”
Although reefs take up a minute amount of space in the world’s oceans, they are home to about a quarter of all known marine species.
www.guardian.co.uk 13th September 2010
A coalition of scientists, scientific societies, venture capitalists and conservative think tanks are discussing the possibility of deliberately engineering the Earth’s climate to prevent anthropogenic global warming. There are two ways in which this could be done. The first is the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. The second is the reduction of solar heat reaching the Earth either by preventing it coming in or by reflecting more of it out. All potential methods of so-called ‘geo-engineering’ are far-fetched but that has not stopped them from being considered. All are highly intrusive to our environment. To remove CO2 from the atmosphere such proposals as lacing the sea with iron filings (which promote the growth of algae that absorb CO2) and erecting sodium trees (that turn CO2 into sodium bicarbonate) have been put forward. To reduce solar heat it has been suggested to send billions of reflective disks into space to reflect the sun’s rays or create unmanned ships that plough the seas and spray seawater into the air to produce more clouds. Perhaps the most seriously considered proposal is to spray the atmosphere with sulphur dioxide to control the Earth’s temperature. The effect will be very similar to a volcanic eruption such as that of Mount Krakatoa in 1883 which lowered global temperatures by about 1 degree centigrade.
To read the Guardian’s full discussion on ‘geo-engineering’ click here. So far no governments are known to have seriously considered any of the options above.
www.bbc.co.uk 16th September 2010
This year’s Arctic ice summer minimum was the third smallest since satellite records began with an area 1.84 million square miles. Although more than the minimum of 2007 and 2008, the ice melted unusually quickly this year. The time from the maximum ice cover to the minimum was a lot less which meant that although global temperatures ha been the highest in a 130 year period in 2010, there was less time for these temperatures to effect the ice. The findings come from the National Snow and Ice Centre (NSIC) in Boulder, Colorado and though they may correspond to a gradual decline in Arctic ice cover, they do not point to the complete loss of summer ice in the next few years, as some research groups have suggested.
www.guardian.co.uk 15th September 2010
A new study published in the journal ‘Population and Environment’ by Aaron McCright, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Sociology, has found that “women tend to believe the scientific consensus on global warming more than men”. However, the paper also discusses how women lack faith in their scientific comprehension of the subject. 35% of surveyed women professed to being concerned about climate change compared to 29% of men. The divide is slightly larger when asked if they thought that global warming posed a threat to their way of life (37% of women to 28% of men). The results could be explained by ‘gender socialisation’ whereby “boys learn that masculinity emphasises detachment, control and mastery, whereas girls develop traits of attachment, empathy and care”.
www.guardian.co.uk 13th September 2010
A rare exodus of walruses is occurring from the Arctic across the Chukchi Sea to the Alaskan coast. Only two other such migrations are known to have occurred: once in 2007 and then last year. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is now tracking between 10,000 and 20,000 walruses, mostly females and calves, as they congregate on United States soil. Geoff York, from the WWF’s global Arctic program, has stated that the large migration is due to decreasing ice in their natural habitats causing the heavy mammals onto dry land or less suitable drift ice. It is estimated that the Chukchi shelf could be completely ice free between August and October by the end of the century. This year is the third lowest ice levels in recorded history. The Arctic is experiencing a global warming rate of twice the rest of the world and increased CO2 levels in the sea-water is causing increased acidity. This may be another reason for the walrus exodus as the water may now be too corrosive for varieties of shellfish that make up the mammal’s diet.
Last summer 130 walruses, mostly calves, were trampled to death by the herd on dry land as it foraged for food. Due to the scale of this year’s migration, it is feared that such an event could repeat itself.