Tag Archives: climate change

POLAR BEARS TAKING HEAT BY INBREEDING: Loss of sea ice means Svalbard’s bears are keeping things ‘in the family,’ putting health and adaptability to changing conditions at risk

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Whether you call it “polar bear incest” (tabloids) or “reduction of genetic differentiation” (scientists) it means the same thing: more inbreeding among bears in Svalbard due to less sea ice is threatening their health and ability to adapt to things such as climate change.

LOCAL POLAR BEARS MAY BE EXTINCT IN 50 YEARS – BUT ‘THRIVING’ NOW: Norwegian Polar Institute issues dire warning about future; ‘denialist’ blog uses NPI data to cast doubt

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Photo by Jon Aars / Norwegian Polar Institute

Fundamental rule of journalism: be wary of a scientific study headlined “may” – as in “Polar bears may be extinct on Svalbard in 50 years,” according to a Norwegian Polar Institute press release issued this week.

So besides looking for “yes, but” qualifiers in the study, scanning the internet for the usual naysayers seems in order. 

LONGYEARBYEN’S AVERAGE TEMPERATURE NOW 2.8C WARMER: Update to 30-year average is 4.5C warmer during coldest months, 1.5C higher during warmest months

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Those who called Longyearbyen’s infamous 111-month streak of above-average temperatures during most of the 2010s a lot statistically outdated hot air are proving to be prophetic, as an update to the official 30-year average at Svalbard Airport show the mean annual temperature is now -3.9C, compared to the average of -6.7C used for the past three decades.

FIVE YEARS AFTER ‘THE’ AVALANCHE: Survivors moving on, but the wreckage and recovery continues reshaping Longyearbyen after fateful tragedy takes away lives and homes – and security

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Exactly five years ago Malte Jochmann and Elke Morgner, their two young children, and a visiting friend were buried in the kitchen under tons of snow that had just destroyed their home and 10 others. Just after noon on Saturday in the 24-hour darkness of Longyearbyen’ polar night, the couple of their children gathered at a candlelight memorial perhaps 100 meters away from their former home and reflected on how they were among the lucky ones.

HOT AND WET IN THE DARK: New high temperature record for Svalbard as area between Longyearbyen and Svea goes from 3.9C to 9.4C between midnight and 1 a.m. Thursday

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A year where the weather in Svalbard is as extreme as the rest of the surreality of 2020 set another record early Thursday morning as the temperature in an area between Longyearbyen and Svea rose from 3.9 degrees Celsius at midnight to all-time high for the archipelago on this date of 9.4 degrees, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

HOTTEST SUMMER EVER IN SVALBARD: Temperature was 3C above ‘normal,’ including hottest day ever – but archipelago has been abnormally warm for the past three decades

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Photo by Jesper Madsen /Norwegian Polar Institute

It’s not exactly a shock that a summer that saw Svalbard’s hottest day in recorded history is also the hottest summer in history, with an average temperature of three degrees Celsius above normal.

But while unusually warm, that “normal” is a somewhat skewed figure since it omits a marked period of overall warming during the past 30 years.

DRAINING DISASTER: Mine 7 flooded by melting glacier caused by record heat; pause in operations until Aug. 17 due to COVID-19 now likely to be prolonged

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A “major inflow of water” into Mine 7 from a melting glacier caused by a heat wave that triggered Longyearbyen’s highest recorded temperature in history is forcing Store Norske to undertake an extensive operator to remove the water and assess damage to equipment, which likely will prevent from mine from resuming operations next month following a suspension caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced this week.

Today is Longyearbyen’s hottest day in recorded history. So of course a new study was just published about the ‘decline in temperature variability on Svalbard’

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If you’re spending Longyearbyen’s hottest day ever (a Saturday, no less) inside reading academic papers by strangers for lack of better ideas, maybe it’s fitting to feel a bit more warm under the collar about a “discovery” a bit at odds with the incessantly repeated claims temperatures here are rapidly going to more extremes due to climate change.

Despite setting all kinds of high-temperature marks the past decade or so – including the famous 111-month streak of above-average temperatures that ended earlier this year – a new study claims temperatures at Svalbard Airport have actually gotten steadily more consistent between 1976 and 2019. And, yes, due to the same climate change others cite as why things are going to extremes.

NO POLAR BEARS BY 2100? Svalbard faces most drastic threat to entire population, even if climate change impacts are reduced, in new global study

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Svalbard’s polar bears are among the least threatened under current global climate conditions, but are facing the most drastic best-to-worst scenario and being among those most likely to go extinct during the next several decades due to climate change, according to a study published Monday.

UNLUCKY SEVEN: A new study takes Longyearbyen’s ‘warming faster than anywhere’ claim to yet another level – twice the Arctic average and seven times the Earth’s

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Chart showing number of days under -10C in Longyearbyen since 1910 by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

It’s starting to resemble a bidding war.

For a while Longyearbyen was warming twice as fast as Earth, a couple years ago it was three times, late last year all of Svalbard earned a six times claim, and now Longyearbyen has reclaimed the high spot with a new study relying in part on lost documents literally found deep underground that show warming is happening seven times faster.

Furthermore, now that “twice as fast” designation now applies to Longyearbyen compared to the rest of the Arctic, according to the study.