arctic tagged posts

Arctic sea-ice shrinks to near record low extent

This summer’s Arctic sea-ice shrank to its second lowest ever extent in the era of satellite observation. The floes withdrew to just under 3.74 million sq km (1.44 million sq miles) last week, preliminary data indicates. The only time this minimum has been beaten in the 42-year spacecraft record was 2012 when the pack ice was reduced to 3.41 million sq km. Shorter autumn days and encroaching cold mean the floes are now starting to regrow.

It’s normal for Arctic sea-ice to expand through the winter each year and then melt back again in the summer, but the September minima, accounting for some variability, are getting deeper and deeper as the polar north warms.

The downward trend since satellites started routinely monitoring the floes is about 13% per decade, averaged across the month...

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EU and 9 countries protecting the Arctic Ocean

Artic sea Ice

Last week, nine countries—the U.S., Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland/Denmark, China, Japan, Iceland, South Korea, and the European Union (which includes 28 member states)—agreed to hold off on allowing commercial fishing in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years while scientists study the potential impacts on wildlife in the far north. It was an extraordinary act of conservation—the rare case where major governments around the world decided to proceed with caution before racing into a new frontier to haul up sea life with boats and nets. They set aside 1.1 million square miles of ocean, an area larger than the Mediterranean Sea.

But to really grasp the significance of this milestone, consider why such a step was even possible, and what that says about our world t...

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Russia charges Greenpeace activists with piracy

Greenpeace team being arrested

Fourteen Greenpeace activists, including at least four from the UK, have been charged with piracy by the Russian authorities. They were among a 30-strong crew on a Greenpeace ship that was protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic. The group was arrested last month after two of the protesters tried to board an oil platform owned by the Russian state-controlled firm Gazprom.

Greenpeace has called the charges “irrational, absurd and an outrage”.

‘Piracy of an organised group’

The 14 activists were taken from jail to the Murmansk office of the Investigative Committee, the Russian equivalent of the FBI, the BBC’s Daniel Sandford reports from Moscow.

There they were formally charged with “piracy of an organised group”, an offence that carries a 15-year prison sentence.

Those charged inclu...

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Arctic sea ice reaches seasonal low

Sunny day in the arctic

Sea-ice extent in the Arctic appears to have arrived at its yearly minimum, scientists report.

The US National Snow and Ice Data Center says this summer’s marine floes were reduced in cover to 5.10 million sq km (1.97 million sq mi).

This low was reached on 13 September.

It represents almost 50% more ice than the spectacular satellite-era record-minimum achieved this time last year – when floes were reduced to just 3.41 million sq km (1.32 million sq mi).

The NSIDC describes this summer’s cover as a “temporary reprieve”.

Steadily warming conditions in the far north have seen the annual mean ice extent since 1979 – the beginning of continuous space-based observations – fall by about 4% per decade.

This year represents the sixth smallest cover recorded by the satellites...

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