Tag Archives: climate change

TRANSPOLAR TRASH TRAVELS: Plastic pollution in remote Arctic wilderness areas as bad as urban locations anywhere else on Earth, scientists warn


Photo of catamaran being pulled by Polarstern icebreaker during plastic pollution survey courtesy of Alfred Wegener Institute

Sparsely populated areas of the Arctic shows a similar level of pollution as dense towns and cities around the globe, according to a new study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. This includes virtually all habitats, from beaches through layers of the water column to the seabed, and from pollutants including from fabrics, personal care products, packaging and other everyday materials.

MARCHING ON HIGH: New temperature record for month as Ny-Ålesund hits 5.5C on Wednesday – 17C above normal – and 42.6mm of rain falls; Longyearbyen also gets wet thaw


Photo by Ine-Therese Pedersen / Norwegian Meteorological Institute

Surely there are upsides to mountainsides and streets being filled with tons of flowing slush during a torrential rain. But for experts and mere mortals opining about a record heat wave hitting Svalbard on Wednesday the only optimism was about returning to typical subzero winter conditions – and even that brings its own deluge of problems.

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: A 10,000-km voyage around Svalbard reveals an ecosystem facing ’terminal decline’ – and small moments of hope from Earth’s largest creatures


Tord Karlsen / Arctic Sense Expedition

The summary of their four-month sea voyage is suicidally depressing, in the sense of portraying an imminent future of humans hastening their widespread life-ending pattern of destruction. But they also found hope in a few moments, such as a brief encounter with ten blue whales that convinced the researchers Earth’s biggest creatures are making a slow recovery that may have larger implications.

TWICE AS ICE: Since Svalbard is warming 7X faster than the global average, scientists studying long-term patterns say – big shock – glacier melt rate speeding up and may double by 2100


Yeah, it’s yet another climate study predicting a hellishly gloomy Svalbard by 2100. But instead of triggering heartburn by focusing on impacts such as dead polar bears this study warning about the doubling of local glacier melting invokes cool back-to-the-future concepts such as “space-for-time substitution.”

Or, as the scientists explain more simply, “they studied development patterns of hundreds of glaciers over relatively short periods of time rather than a single glacier over a very long period of time. The method is useful because the glaciers exist in a very wide variety of climates.”

‘BEARING WITNESS TO SVALBARD’S FRAGILE SPLENDOR’: Latest NY Times photo series of ‘world’s most compelling places’ debuts with inevitable ‘collapse’ of ‘etheral’ ecosystem


It’s not exactly breaking news – especially since it’s from a visit in 2017 – but another stark warning about Svalbard’s future is at the top of The New York Times’ website on Monday, in the form of an essay where the photos are meant to convey a message outsiders might not grasp in words.

CHILLY CLIMATE CONFERENCE CONCLUSION: An amazingly astute 700-word analysis of the UN’s COP 26 agreement, courtesy of our alt-weekly brethren in Boston


COP 26 fire collage by Jason Pramas. All images used are in the public domain

The following “wish this was satire” analysis is an Association of Alternative Media contribution by DigBoston Executive Editor Jason Pramas (original link):

RUSSIA NOW ALSO SEEKS TO CURB COAL CO2: Plan for reconstruction of Barentsburg power plant to reduce emissions comes as Longyearbyen votes to shut its plant by 2023


Barentsburg isn’t joining Longyearbyen’s just-announced decision to shutting down its coal power plant by 2023, but a reconstruction of the plant in the Russian settlement to reduce emissions in part of a new five-year plan in Svalbard, according to Russia’s government.

The plan also seeks a reduction in coal mining activities – notable because Russia has openly stated it plans to continue operations as long as practically feasible as part of its effort to maintain a strong presence in the archipelago as part of its broader quest for Arctic influence.

REINDEER FINDING PURSUING POLAR BEARS A DRAG: Researchers captures first known video of bear hunting down reindeer as need for alternative prey grows due to climate


Photo by P. Nowosa/P. Ulandowska-Monarcha

Polar bears in Svalbard are continuing to expand the diversity of their diet as climate change diminishes their traditional hunting prospects, according to a team of Polish researchers who captured what they say is the first video of a bear stalking and killing an adult reindeer.

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


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


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.