by Dr Benny Peiser
In recent years, October has seen some rapid recoveries of Arctic ice extents. But this year may become something special. With the early onset of Siberian snow cover and the resulting surface cooling, ice is roaring back, especially on the Asian side. Consider the refreezing during the last 11 days through yesterday. —Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 7 October 2017
Tony Abbott, former PM of Australia, gave the annual GWPF lecture on Monday night. Predictably, the talk has been attacked, thereby giving it lots of publicity, and equally predictably, there is no substance to the attacks. —Paul Matthews, Climate Scepticism, 10 October 2017
Tony Abbott’s speech in London was a seminal event. It finally, if belatedly, drew a line in the sand between energy sanity and insanity and invited politicians, business leaders and indeed voters to join him on the side of sanity. The side of sanity, it should not need stating, is one of cheap, reliable and plentiful electricity. — Terry McCrann, Herald Sun, 11 October 2017
A lawyer for an environmental activist convicted of targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota said he doesn’t think a judge’s decision disallowing the threat of global warming as a defense to justify the crime would be grounds for an appeal. —The New York Times, 10 October 2017
Germany’s hefty green energy subsidies played a crucial role in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s debilitating political losses during last month’s election, according to a report Sunday from The New York Times. —Daily Caller, 9 October 2017
Germany’s environment ministry fears high emissions from coal-fired power plants and transport will make the country miss its 2020 climate targets by a wider margin than previously anticipated. The ministry’s warning adds further pressure to make fast progress on climate-related issues in upcoming talks aimed at forming a new government following September’s general elections. —Clean Energy Wire, 11 October 2017
For all the applause that Pruitt received repealing the Clean Power Plan, there is also disgruntlement. A backroom battle between industry officials and those anti-climate conservatives over whether to issue a scaled-back replacement rule is burgeoning. The hard-liners don’t want an alternative rule because greenhouse gases would still be regulated. —E&E News, 11 October 2017
Read more at climatechangedispatch.com
The State of Ice and Snow Northern Hemisphere 2017
With the media continually talking about global warming and melting ice, I thought I would take a minute to show you up to date statistics of Greenland Ice Growth, the way NSIDC change the visuals on ice metrics, the amount of new Arctic ice and the amount of snow cover across the N. Hemisphere. You will question what you see in the mainstream media after this video.
Shock news: Melting ice in Greenland makes seawater a bit less salty
From AARHUS UNIVERSITY and the obvious science with one datapoint department
The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline
For the first time, ocean data from Northeast Greenland reveals the long-term impact of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
Greenland’s ice sheet melts and sends large amounts of fresh water into the coastal waters, where it is of major importance for local production but potentially also for global ocean currents. Photo from Young Sound, Northeast Greenland. CREDIT Photo: Mikael Sejr
For the first time, ocean data from Northeast Greenland reveals the long-term impact of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The observed increase in freshwater content will affect the conditions in all Greenland fjords and may ultimately affect the global ocean currents that keep Europe warm.
Today, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark present a 13-year long time series of data in the esteemed journal Nature, Scientific Reports, which shows how the melting ice affects coastal waters in Northeast Greenland.
Over the years, the dramatic meltdown of ice in the Arctic Ocean has received great attention and is easy to observe via satellite images. Also, glaciers have been observed to melt and retreat and the researchers know that today’s meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet has more than doubled compared with the period 1983-2003. How the increased influx of fresh water will affect the marine environment is, however, largely unknown.
Now, unique annual measurements made within the framework of the ‘Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program’ since 2003 in Northeast Greenland tell a clear tale – fresh water from the ice sheet accumulates in the surface layers of the surrounding sea and flows into the Greenland fjords.
The measurements were made in Young Sound and in the sea outside Young Sound. Here, the long time series shows that the surface water layers became up to 1.5 per mill less saline during the measurement period. The is equivalent to an increase in freshwate [sic] content from approximately 1 m in 2003 to almost 4 m in 2015!
Part of the fresh water likely originates from melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet north of the Young Sound and is transported with the East Greenland ocean current along the eastern coast of Greenland.
From the ocean, the fresh water flows into the Greenland fjords where is influence local circulation with impacts on the production and ecosystem structure. More fresh water in the surface water layers makes it harder for the nutrient-rich bottom water to rise to the upper layers where the sunlight ensures the production of plankton algae in summer.
Figure legends 1A. Changes in summer salinity from 2003 to 2015 in Young Sound, NE Greenland. The graph show how the heavy, nutrient rich saline water is being restricted to the deeper layers due to inflow of fresh melt water from the Greenland Ice Sheet. 1B. Inter-annual changes in the integrated total freshwater content in the water column of Young Sound showing an increase from approximately 1 m of pure freshwater in 2003 to almost 4 m in 2015. CREDIT Mikael Sejr
Plankton algae form the basis for all life in the sea and a lower production of algae will result in a lower production of fish. Today, fishing constitutes approx. 88% of Greenland’s exports.
Melting of the ice sheet in Northeast Greenland is significantly lower than in southern and western Greenland, and the researchers warn that the effects may be far more dramatic in other parts of the Greenland coastal waters than in Young Sound.
At a global scale, the increased melting of the ice sheet contributes to rising sea level and may impact global ocean circulation patterns through the so-called ‘thermohaline circulation’ that sustains among others, the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe warm.
The article “Evidence of local and regional freshering of Northeast Greenland coastal waters” is published in Nature, Scientific Reports on Friday, 13 October.
Too Much Ice ? Not Enough Ice? Eco Alarm As Penguin Chicks Die
By Paul Homewood
This story has been doing the rounds today. This is from the Guardian:
A colony of about 40,000 Adélie penguins in Antarctica has suffered a “catastrophic breeding event” – all but two chicks have died of starvation this year. It is the second time in just four years that such devastation – not previously seen in more than 50 years of observation – has been wrought on the population.
The finding has prompted urgent calls for the establishment of a marine protected area in East Antarctica, at next week’s meeting of 24 nations and the European Union at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart.
Penguins starving to death is a sign that something’s very wrong in the Antarctic
In the colony of about 18,000 breeding penguin pairs on Petrels Island, French scientists discovered just two surviving chicks at the start of the year. Thousands of starved chicks and unhatched eggs were found across the island in the region called Adélie Land (“Terre Adélie”).
The colony had experienced a similar event in 2013, when no chicks survived. In a paper about that event, a group of researchers, led by Yan Ropert-Coudert from France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, said it had been caused by a record amount of summer sea ice and an “unprecedented rainy episode”.
The unusual extent of sea ice meant the penguins had to travel an extra 100km to forage for food. And the rainy weather left the chicks, which have poor waterproofing, wet and unable to keep warm.
This year’s event has also been attributed to an unusually large amount of sea ice. Overall, Antarctica has had a record low amount of summer sea ice, but the area around the colony has been an exception.
Ropert-Coudert said the region had been severely affected by the break-up of the Mertz glacier tongue in 2010, when a piece of ice almost the size of Luxembourg – about 80 km long and 40km wide – broke off. That event, which occurred about 250km from Petrels Island, had a big impact on ocean currents and ice formation in the region.
“The Mertz glacier impact on the region sets the scene in 2010 and when unusual meteorological events, driven by large climatic variations, hit in some years this leads to massive failures,” Ropert-Coudert told the Guardian. “In other words, there may still be years when the breeding will be OK, or even good for this colony, but the scene is set for massive impacts to hit on a more or less regular basis.”
The link between climate change and the sea-ice extent around Antarctica is not very clear. Sea ice has been increasing in recent years, which could be attributed to a rise in the amount of freshwater in the ocean around the continent caused by climate change. However, over the long term, climate change is expected to cause the sea ice to shrink dramatically.
“For the moment, sea ice is increasing and this is a problem for this species as it pushes the feeding place – the sea ice edge – farther away from their nesting place,” Ropert-Coudert said. “If it shrinks it would help but if it shrinks too much then the food chain they rely on may be impacted. Basically, as a creature of the sea ice they need an optimum sea-ice cover to thrive.”
Elsewhere, human pressures including climate change have already been having a severe impact on the numbers of Adélie penguins. On the Antarctic Peninsula, which has been badly affected by climate change, populations have been decreasing, and some researchers suggest they may become extinct there.
Ropert-Coudert said there were more anthropogenic threats on the horizon – fishing and possibly tourism – that the penguins needed protection from.
He has called for a marine protected area (MPA) to be established there.
“An MPA will not remedy these changes but it could prevent further impacts that direct anthropogenic pressures, such as tourism and proposed fisheries, could bring,” he said.
Next week, 24 countries and the European Union will meet at the CCAMLR in Hobart to discuss the potential creation of more MPAs around Antarctica.
At last year’s meeting, after years of failed negotiations, the members agreed to create the world’s largest MPA in the Ross Sea, and many expect the group to agree on East Antarctica next.
This has also been proposed by Australia and has been on the table at the CCAMLR for eight years.
The head of polar programs at WWF, Rod Downie, said: “Adélie penguins are one of the hardiest and most amazing animals on our planet. This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have of penguins. It’s more like ‘Tarantino does Happy Feet’, with dead penguin chicks strewn across a beach in Adélie Land.
“The risk of opening up this area to exploratory krill fisheries, which would compete with the Adélie penguins for food as they recover from two catastrophic breeding failures in four years, is unthinkable. So CCAMLR needs to act now by adopting a new Marine Protected Area for the waters off East Antarctica, to protect the home of the penguins.”
In reality, this has nothing to do with climate change. As was reported last year, a rather large iceberg, which had been floating around the coast for twenty years, became trapped in Commonwealth Bay, thus locking in the sea ice.
There is nothing remotely unusual about such icebergs. This is what happens when glaciers calve.
Eco nutters seem to have the almost disneyesque belief that all animals would live an idyllic life, if it was not for nasty mankind spoiling it for them. In reality, nature is hard, very hard. Instances like this one can happen anytime.
But what does this mean for the Adelie population as whole? Is it threatened as the Guardian implies?
Interestingly, in contrast, an Adélie population a short distance away on the eastern fringe of Commonwealth Bay, is thriving, as it is just 8km away from the fast ice edge.
And as Antarctic expert, David Killick, explained at the time, Adelie populations at Cape Denison have ebbed and flowed down the years:
As for Antarctica as a whole, Lynch and LaRue published a paper in 2014, “First global census of the Adélie Penguin”:
We report on the first global census of the Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), achieved using a combination of ground counts and satellite imagery, and find a breeding population 53% larger (3.79 million breeding pairs) than the last estimate in 1993. We provide the first abundance estimates for 41 previously unsurveyed colonies, which collectively contain 420,000 breeding pairs, and report on 17 previously unknown colonies, 11 of which may be recent colonizations. These recent colonizations represent ∼5% of the increase in known breeding population and provide insight into the ability of these highly philopatric seabirds to colonize new breeding territories. Additionally, we report on 13 colonies not found in the survey, including 8 that we conclude have gone extinct. We find that Adélie Penguin declines on the Antarctic Peninsula are more than offset by increases in East Antarctica. Our global population assessment provides a robust baseline for understanding future changes in abundance and distribution. These results are a critically needed contribution to ongoing negotiations regarding the design and implementation of Marine Protected Areas for the Southern Ocean.
Clearly the Adelie penguins are doing just fine.
There is one more issue.
Krill is an extremely important part of the Adelie diet, for which they are in competition with whales and seals.
When whale and seal populations were nearly wiped out in the Southern Ocean during the 19thC by hunting, Adelie populations naturally thrived. Now the competition has returned, it is little surprise that there are not as many Adelies around as when Mawson camped amongst them in 1911.