Posts Tagged "Svalbard"

Roundup: Icebergs, Mobile Toxins, Festive Algae

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Icebergs, Mobile Toxins, Festive Algae

Spread the News:ShareIceberg Ahead! A New Study Finds Way to Avert Disaster “When performing offshore operations in the Arctic, there are several challenges. One of those challenges is the threat of icebergs on offshore structures and vessels. Icebergs can exert extremely high loads on vessels, offshore platforms, and seabed installations.” Find out how the team is proposing safer Arctic travels.    Glaciers Retreat Toxic Metals Are on the Move in Tibet “In mountain ecosystems, the most important natural source of trace metals is from the weathering of parent materials. However, in recent decades, the metals in mountain regions are mainly from anthropogenic sources including mining, refinement, and fuel combustion. Considering the toxicity of trace metals, it is necessary to investigate and evaluate their mobility and eco-risk in mountain ecosystems.” Learn more about the possibly toxic soil exposed as glaciers retreat.   With Red and Green Snow, Algae Just Misses Christmas Season “We demonstrate that green and red snow clearly vary in their physico-chemical environment, their microbial community composition and their metabolic profiles. For the algae this likely reflects both different stages of their life cycles and their adaptation strategies. ” Read more about the colorful algae and what it means for soil quality.   Spread the...

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Roundup: Gloomy Glaciologist, Icy Blasts, and New Models

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Gloomy Glaciologist, Icy Blasts, and New Models

Spread the News:ShareGlaciologist Causes Chills with Not So Icy Predictions “How does being the one to look at the grim facts of climate change most intimately, day in and day out, affect a person? Is Box representative of all of the scientists most directly involved in this defining issue of the new century? How are they being affected by the burden of their chosen work in the face of changes to the earth that could render it a different planet?” Read more about the man who, for better or for worse, set off climate alarm bells.   Could Climate Change Cause More Icy Blasts? “The degree of activity of the volcano provides a semiquantitative indication concerning the probability of future eruptive activity, but changes in snow and ice as induced by climate change and/or volcanic activity can superimpose fast or slow trends with respect to hazards and risks related to volcanoe-ice interactions…” Read more about the risks of volcano-ice interactions and how those risks might effect society. High Resolution Model Accurately Recreates Glacier Variability “Altogether, the model compares well with observations and offers possibilities for studying glacier climatic mass balance on Svalbard both historically as well as based on climate projections.” Read more about how the researchers were able to get their models so accurate.   Spread the...

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The Question of Black Carbon

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

The Question of Black Carbon

Spread the News:ShareBlack carbon has only recently emerged as a known major contributor to climate change, especially for the Arctic. Formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass, black carbon absorbs light more strongly than any other particulate matter, especially when deposited onto glaciers and snow cover. Here, it lowers their reflectivity, thereby absorbing atmospheric heat and resulting in earlier spring melt and higher temperatures. New research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, is attempting to address research gaps in this new but significant climate agent by quantifying and analyzing black carbon concentration and deposition in Svalbard, the major archipelago north of Norway. The study, focusing on black carbon on the Holtedahlfonna glacier in Svalbard between 1700 and 2004, found significant rises in black carbon concentration from the 1970s until 2004 , with unprecedented levels in the 1990s.  Importantly, the study concludes that the increase in black carbon concentration “cannot be simply explained by changes in the snow accumulation rate at the glacier,” or simply by glacial melt and shrinkage in Svalbard. This indicates that black carbon was instead deposited in increasing quantities during this time period. The study raises some puzzling differences between black carbon concentrations and deposition in Svalbard and between previous data from other Arctic regions. While Svalbard’s black carbon values increased rapidly from a low point in 1970 until 2004, reaching a high in the 1990s, black carbon analyzed in Greenland ice cores indicated generally decreasing atmospheric black carbon concentrations since 1989 in the Arctic. This difference is likely at least partly explained by differences in the specific methodologies used in the studies, such as the operational definition of black carbon that determined which size particles were included in the study. The Svalbard study collected its data by filtering the inner part of a 125 m deep ice core from the Holtedahlfonna glacier through a quartz fiber filter. The filtrate was analyzed using a thermal-optical method, while previous comparable studies used an SP2 (Single Particle Soot Photometer) method. The different methodologies used between studies makes it hard to assess the validity of the studies’ findings. Indeed, previous studies on black carbon on Himalayan and European ice cores have repeatedly shown different and contracting trends when measured with different analytical methods, even when studies examined the same glaciers. This indicates a significant need for more and improved research on black carbon research in the Arctic. Black carbon concentrations, as the study reveals, are immensely complicated and depend on a variety of factors, such as air concentration of black carbon, the amount of precipitation, local wind drift patterns post-deposition, sublimation, and melt. Black carbon concentration can also be affected by sudden changes in snow and ice accumulation, or seasonal melt. These factors make it difficult for scientists to collect faithful data of black carbon concentration over time. However, black carbon data in the Arctic is incredibly important: in the Arctic, black carbon is a more important warming agent than greenhouse gases. Its levels are intensely impacted from local and regional emission sources near Svalbard, such as forest and wild fires and flaring at gas wells in Russia, impacts that are difficult to accurately quantify, the researcher state. While this study sheds light on recent trends of black carbon levels in Svalbard, it raises some key questions about the particle’s measurement, suggesting a need for further development of accurate black carbon measurement techniques and for further research on the role black carbon plays in Arctic warming. Spread the...

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Glacier Past Unveiled Through Sediments

Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Glacier Past Unveiled Through Sediments

Spread the News:ShareResearchers have long used preserved sediment layers in glaciers as time records to understand the climate of the past. But now, researchers, publishing in Quaternary Science Reviews, have used lake sediments in glacier-fed Lake Hajeren in Svalbard to recreate glacier variability during the Holocene period. The sediments, which were deposited over millennia, have been undisturbed, allowing researchers to develop a continuous and full record of glaciers as early as 11,700 calibrated Before Present (BP). The dates were calculated using radiocarbon calibration, meaning that the dates have been compared to other radiocarbon samples. Atmospheric carbon varies over time, so it does not necessarily correspond to the current Gregorian calendar. By comparing different radiocarbon samples, researchers hope to develop a more accurate dating system. The researchers’ complete record revealed a number of new findings about the advance and presence of the Svalbard glacier. Sediments in Lake Hajeren indicated that between 3380 and 3230 cal BP there was a glacier advance that lasted more than 100 years. The glacier advance had never before been recorded. Researchers also noted that during the deglaciation period before 11,300 cal BP, glaciers in Svalbard remained, and that between 7.4 and 6.7 thousand cal BP, glaciers disappeared. It wasn’t until 4250 cal BP that glacier reformation began. The variability in glacier presence and formation can be attributed to pulses from the melting Laurentide Ice Sheet, episodes of cooling in the Atlantic and reduced isolation during summers. “These findings highlight the climate-sensitivity of the small glaciers studied, which rapidly responded to climate shifts,” the authors wrote. Their research contributes to a body of work looking to better understand the driving forces behind climate variability in the Arctic, the region most affected by climate change. The Arctic also has a disproportional impact on the global climate compared to other parts of the world. Arctic response to climate change can also be used to develop climate models that estimate the impacts of global warming. “The rapid response of the small Hajeren glaciers improves our understanding of climate variability on Svalbard, suggesting that the Holocene was punctuated by major centennial-scale perturbations,” the authors concluded. “As such, this study underlines the value of glacier-fed lake sediments in contextualizing Arctic climate dynamics.” Spread the...

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Photo Friday: A Snapshot of Svalbard

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: A Snapshot of Svalbard

Spread the News:ShareSvalbard is a Norwegian archipelago tucked in between Norway and the North Pole. Especially known for its views of the Northern Lights and its summer “midnight sun,” in which sunlight graces the archipelago 24 hours a day, Svalbard is also known for its glaciers, which cover around 60 percent of Svalbard’s land area. Project Pressure, a charity documenting the world’s vanishing glaciers, posted incredible photos of Southern Svalbard’s glaciers. Project Pressure hosts a wide collection of incredible, free-to-use images, so be sure to check out their website here. Wavelike formation next to the Tuv Glacier in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard A crevasse on the Hans Glacier in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard Hans Glacier at dusk in September in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard Many thanks to Chris Arnold, the photographer of these photos. Check out his website here.   Spread the...

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