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Abnormal heat in Svalbard
Old News
Monday, 26 March 2012 09:29
Measuring tools in the Arctic (Photo: GettyImages)Measuring tools in the Arctic (Photo: GettyImages)The temperatures in Svalbard this year have been abnormal. The average temperature in the first three months of the year is around -13°.

Now it has been around -2°, 11° above the normal number. But the inhabitants have also experienced record heat, avalanches, rain and ice-free fjords.

The warmest day so far this year was February 8, with +7°C. Longyearbyen has had 90 millimeters of precipitation so far this year, nearly twice the normal.

But this is nothing compared to Ny-Ålesund, where 97 percent of the normal annual precipitation came during the first 80 days of the year.

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{mosmap address='Longyearbyen, Svalbard'|zoom='3'|}

 
Shipping News Article Test
Shipping News
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 26 March 2012 00:00

TesttestFrom the outset, Krafla was in the public eye in Iceland, with much political controversy surrounding its construction. For a while it was uncertain whether Krafla would ever actually enter operation, when large-scale volcanic eruptions started only two kilometres away from the station, posing a serious threat to its existence.

Work continued, however, and the station went on stream early in 1977. Krafla‘s colourful history makes it one of the best-known power stations in Iceland. An average of 15 employees work at the station, plus site maintenance teams in summer.

From the outset, Krafla was in the public eye in Iceland, with much political controversy surrounding its construction. For a while it was uncertain whether Krafla would ever actually enter operation, when large-scale volcanic eruptions started only two kilometres away from the station, posing a serious threat to its existence.

Work continued, however, and the station went on stream early in 1977. Krafla‘s colourful history makes it one of the best-known power stations in Iceland. An average of 15 employees work at the station, plus site maintenance teams in summer.

 
New drill for permafrost in Svalbard
Old News
Friday, 23 March 2012 08:18
Permafrost core (Photo: Hanne Christiansen - UNIS)Permafrost core (Photo: Hanne Christiansen - UNIS)The PAGE21 project, a new EU 7th framework collaborative research project which Arctic Portal prodly is a part of, will expand knowledge of permafrost in the Arctic. Drilling starts next week in Adventdalen, Svalbard.

A total of 18 institutions from 11 countries are involved and UNIS is in charge of the field campaign in Adventdalen outside Longyearbyen that starts next week.

The five main research field sites are Zackenberg in North Eastern Greenland, Abisko in Northern Sweden, Adventdalen and Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, and Samoylov Island and Kytalyk in Russia. The individual key field research sites are collecting field data on the permafrost, such as determining its temperature, its amount of ice, the origin of the ice, and the distribution of permafrost landforms in the study areas.

A new specially designed hydraulic drill rig has been  bought for drilling. UNtil now the drilling has been hand made, down to only 2 meters. The new drill is able to collect cores from the permafrost in both sediments and bedrock down to potentially 50 m depth.

The drill in testing in Svalbard (Photo: Hanne Christiansen - UNIS)The drill in testing in Svalbard (Photo: Hanne Christiansen - UNIS)The drilling that starts next week will collect up to 110m of permafrost coresfrom ice-wedge polygons, pingos and solifluction sheets in Adventdalen.

The PAGE21 project combines field measurements of permafrost processes, pools, and fluxes, with remote sensing data and global climate models at local, regional and, for the first time, pan-Arctic scales.

The output from this research will help to advance our understanding of permafrost processes at multiple scales, resulting in improvements in global numerical permafrost modelling and the ensuing future climate projections.


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{mosmap address='Adventdalen, Svalbard'|zoom='3'|}

 
Sea levels rise to cost trillions?
Old News
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 13:23
Melting of sea ice (Photo: GettyImages)Melting of sea ice (Photo: GettyImages)The rise of sea levels due to melting sea ice, as a result of climate change, could cost around $2 trillion US dollars. This is the result of a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden.

By the end of the century the cost could skyrocket. The scenario made by the SEI is that the Earth´s temperature will rise by 4° by 2100. The report is part of a book, Valuing the Ocean, which is being compiled by the SEI for the UN's Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.

The rise of the Earth´s temperature will have several economic impacts, for example on fisheries, tourism, as well as those associated with the oceans' ability to absorb atmospheric carbon. If the temperature rise holds at 2 °C it could save as much as $1.4 trillion.

Report co-editor Kevin Noone of Stockholm University emphasizes that the $2 trillion figure is not a worst-case scenario. It doesn't count the cost of factors that aren't easily quantifiable, such as the value of species which will go extinct when their habitats are lost.

The value of the oceans should not be underestimated. "Every second breath [of oxygen] we take comes from marine organisms," Noone says.

 
Stronger global governance needed
Old News
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 14:33
Climate measuring tools (Photo: GettyImages)Climate measuring tools (Photo: GettyImages)Stronger global governance is needed to mitigate human impact on the earth's climate and to ensure sustainable development. This is the statement of 32 scientists who published a paper in the journal Science.

The article criticizes institutions around the world, including the United Nations, as inadequate for facing the issue.

Lead author Frank Biermann, an environmental policy specialist from VU University in Amsterdam, cites climate change as the most prominent example of the failure of global governance to meet the needs of global society.

"It just takes a long time normally to get new agreements in place," Biermann says. "One example is climate change where the first Framework Convention has been negotiated in 1992. And since then, there is no change in the emissions trends of major countries."

"I mean the current state of global climate governance is surely not effective in dealing with the challenge of global warming that we see today."

The scientists recommend changes both within and outside of the United Nations, including:
 - A shift in the UN from consensus decision making, which requires all nations to agree to a new treaty, to qualified majority voting: "Not necessarily majority voting on the one country-one vote principle, but a system of voting where also larger countries can protect their own interest in a more meaningful way."

- Creation of a new council within the UN, the Council on Sustainable Development, that would consolidate the many agencies and more than 900 environmental treaties currently in effect. The call for environmental policy to be administered on the model of global economic governance—the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund. "We also argue for the upgrading of the existing U.N. environment program toward full-fledged specialized U.N. agencies, which would give this agency better possibilities, better mandate to influence norm setting processes, a better source of funding, and a higher influence in the international governance."

 - A stronger role for civil society—for non-governmental organizations—in international decision making. This is necessary, Biermann says, in part to ensure accountability: ”The key question that we also have to ask ourselves is, ‘How can we hold these global systems of governance accountable to citizens? I mean, how can we invent in a way democracy, accountability, legitimacy at the global level?’ Civil society organizations should gain more rights in getting information and assessing information and also a stronger right to be heard in international norm setting procedures.”

The authors are primarily public policy experts affiliated with universities including Yale, Oxford, the University of California, the University of Oregon, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Colorado State University, among others.

 
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