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Great melt - But not in the Himalayas
Old News
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 08:23
A melting glacier in the Himalayas. Although the outsides of the ice cap is getting smaller, the thickness near the top is growing (Photo: GettyImages)A melting glacier in the Himalayas. Although the outsides of the ice cap is getting smaller, the thickness near the top is growing (Photo: GettyImages)A new study led by a research team from the University of Colorado Boulder shows that glaciers and ice caps in the world, outside Greenland and Antarctica, are shedding roughly 150 billion tons of ice annually.

This is the first comprehensive satellite study of the contribution of the world's melting glaciers and ice caps to global sea level rise. The result indicates they are adding roughly 0.4 millimeters annually according to physics Professor John Wahr who led the study. Melting sea ice contributes to global rise in sea levels, which could lead to significant threats in the future.

The team used satellite images to conduct the study and the annual shed between the years 2003-2010 was enormous. The total does not count the mass from individual glacier and ice caps on the fringes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets -- roughly an additional 80 billion tons.

Launched in 2002, two GRACE satellites whip around Earth in tandem 16 times a day at an altitude of about 300 miles, sensing subtle variations in Earth's mass and gravitational pull. Separated by roughly 135 miles, the satellites measure changes in Earth's gravity field caused by regional changes in the planet's mass, including ice sheets, oceans and water stored in the soil and in underground aquifers.

One unexpected study result from GRACE was that the estimated ice loss from high Asia Mountains -- including ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan -- was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in the high Asia Mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually, Wahr said.

A leading glacier expert in Iceland, confirms that the melt in the Himalayas is not as great as many have thought. He says that it is a misunderstanding that millions of people will be without water if the glaciers melt. Even if they melt, it would continue to snow in the Himalayas and it would be sufficient for the water supply.

He also concluded that the total loss in the Himalayas was not sufficient, as the cap near the top in the Himalayas was getting thicker, while the outsides were shrinking.

Tómas also point out that the great gap in between studies of the Himalayas shows that the measurements are not as accurate as many think. A study from a few years back showed great melt in the Himalayas, much greater then this study.


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{mosmap address='Lhasa, Tibet'|zoom='3'|tooltip='The melt in the HImalayas is perhaps not as great as previously thought.}

From Pole to Pole with the Arctic Tern
Old News
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 14:41
The birds were marked and then visited a year later to compile the info (Photo: GettyImages)The birds were marked and then visited a year later to compile the info (Photo: GettyImages)Carsten Egevang, a researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, has compiled a video which shows the travelling of the Arctic Tern.

The video talks about the migratory odyssey of the Arctic tern. These terns fly from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year.

During its lifetime, the tiny bird flies the equivalent of three round trips between the Earth and the Moon.

The birds were marked and then visited a year later to compile the information. It took some time to spot the birds again!

This amazing story has been put together in this video:
Huge unused energy resource in Iceland
Old News
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 08:24
iceland satelliteIceland from space (GettyImages)Iceland is falling behind when it comes to usage of tidal power. The small nation in the Northern Atlantic is surrounded by ocean, yet it has failed to use its forces for energy.

Research on tidal power has been miniature in Iceland. Geothermal energy has been the focal point.

A total of 21 members out of 63 in the Parliament in Iceland have put forward a suggestion of more research and more money looks likely to be put in the research.

A database of information will be set up in Iceland on the usage, which is long overdue. An expert thinks that this is one of the biggest unused energy resources in Iceland.

Icelandic company Valorka has been granted the IIA 2011 awards for its invention, the Valorka turbine.  IFIA (International Federation of Inventors) grants this awards and the company has high hopes for the turbine.

Valdimar Össurason is the inventor and owner of Valorka. "The Irish have researched their potential energy efficiency from tidal power to around 240tw hours per year. If we localize that to Iceland, it would be 330tw hours per year. That is 20 times the energy usage in Iceland, per year," he said.

A prototype for testing underwater will be made is his research is successful.


See Also:

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{mosmap address='Stykkisholmur, Iceland'|zoom='7'|tooltip='Testing will be done near this town in Iceland.}

Relation between weather and sea ice
Old News
Monday, 06 February 2012 08:54
(Photo: GettyImages)(Photo: GettyImages)The probability of snowy cold winters in Central Europe rises when the Arctic is covered by less sea ice in summer. Scientists of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have made this discovery.

The scientist have decrypted a mechanism in which a shrinking summertime sea ice cover changes the air pressure zones in the Arctic atmosphere and impacts our European winter weather. If there is a larce scale melt in the summer, like in recent years, two important effects are intensified.

Firstly, the retreat of the light ice surface reveals the darker ocean, causing it to warm up more in summer from the solar radiation.

Secondly, the diminished ice cover can no longer prevent the heat stored in the ocean being released into the atmosphere (lid effect). As a result of the decreased sea ice cover the air is warmed more greatly than it used to be particularly in autumn and winter because during this period the ocean is warmer than the atmosphere.

"These higher temperatures can be proven by current measurements from the Arctic regions," reports Ralf Jaiser, lead author of the publication from the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute. The warming of the air near to the ground leads to rising movements and the atmosphere becomes less stable.

“We have analysed the complex non-linear processes behind this destabilisation and have shown how these altered conditions in the Arctic influence the typical circulation and air pressure patterns," explains Jaiser.


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{mosmap address='Potsdam, Germany'|zoom='3'|tooltip='AWI has a research station in Potsdam, Germany.}

ACI’s 3rd Polar Shipping Summit
Old News
Monday, 06 February 2012 08:18
Photo: (GettyImages)Photo: (GettyImages)ACI’s 3rd Polar Shipping event will discuss in depth the business developments in the Arctic and the opportunities created for the shipping industry. The summit will be held in London, England, on the 30th of May, running until the 31st.

Providing a platform for networking and exchanging ideas on operational efficiency, safety, insurance and risk-management in  the Arctic, the summit’s aim is to offer delegates a tool for business development and improvement of their bottom line.

Exploring new opportunities and rising to their challenge through the industry’s best practices whilst achieving financial targets is the ultimate goal of this event

Tero Vauraste from Arctica Shipping will host the keynote address, representitives from Maersk and other big shipping companies will also post their addresses.

Interactive roundtable discussion will also be held.

Click here for the full agenda and contacts.

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