Global Warming

2016 as hottest year on record

The federal government confirmed 2016 as the planet’s warmest year on record, according to a report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Niño early in the year led to last year’s all-time record heat, NOAA said.

While El Niño is a natural warming of Pacific Ocean water, man-made global warming is caused by greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

The amount of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere climbed to its highest level in 800,000 years, the report found.

The report also noted other signs of a warming planet in 2016:

Greenhouse gases were the highest on record. Sea-surface temperatures were the highest on record. Global upper ocean heat content near-record high. Global sea level was the highest on record. Antarctic had a record low sea ice extent.

Global warming makes expedition to ice-locked North Pole possible

Two specially-equipped sailboats are attempting a voyage that’s never been done before – a trip to the North Pole. Led by a British explorer, the international crew has moved the boats from their home in Sitka up to Nome, where they’re hoping to launch for their journey to the Pole this weekend. Melting sea ice in the Arctic could make their voyage possible for the first time in history.

Environment

North Pole temperatures rise up due to heat wave

Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing point on Wednesday, 20 degrees Celsius above the mid-winter norm and the latest abnormality in a season of extreme weather events.

Canadian weather authorities blamed the temperature spike on the freak depression which has already brought record Christmas temperatures to North America and lashed Britain with winds and floods.

The deep low pressure area is currently looming over Iceland and churning up hurricane force 75-knot winds and 30-foot waves in the north Atlantic while dragging warm air northwards.

An Arctic monitoring point 180 miles (300 km) from the Pole that had been recording minus 37 degrees on Monday had shot up to minus eight by Wednesday, said senior researcher James Morison.

The polar region is the area of the world that has seen the most profound effects of climate change in recent decades. Average year-round temperatures in the Arctic are three degrees Celsius higher than they were in the pre-industrial era, snowfall is heavier, winds are stronger and the ice sheet has been shrinking for 30 years. It may be too hasty to pin this week’s extreme weather directly on the man-made climate change phenomenon, rather than on a discreet anomaly, scientists said.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Jamaica

Several bush fires have been registered in Jamaica amid an ongoing drought. The wildfires have affected more than five communities in rural areas in St. Andrew Parish, located northeast of the capital city, Kingston. Difficult terrain in the area is complicating efforts to battle the blazes.

Wildfires – North Pole!

Two small wildfires were quickly contained in the North Pole area Thursday afternoon, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Environment

Magnetic Flip Can Happen in Human LIfetime

Earth’s magnetic field has the potential to reverse within less than a century, and scientists say there is evidence the poles are now moving toward such a flip.

Scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkley, say they made the conclusions by looking at paleomagnetic data in sediment around the volcanoes of southern Italy.

Ash layers from prehistoric eruptions captured and stored magnetic field information in sediment as it accumulated at the bottom of an ancient lake.

Those layers reveal the last magnetic reversal occurred approximately 786,000 years ago, long before humans walked the planet.

The flip happened after more than 6,000 years of instability, including two intervals of low magnetic field strength that lasted about 2,000 years each.

Such a quiet period in modern times could expose Earth’s surface to harmful levels of solar radiation, possibly increasing the rates of cancer and disrupting electrical power grids, scientists caution.

The Magnetic North Pole has drifted around Arctic Canada since measurements of its location began.

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Global Warming

Climate Change Melt Shifting Location of North Pole

The melting of ice caps and glaciers due to climate change is causing a shift in the Earth’s axis, according to new research.

Wobbles in the planet’s rotation are due to various influences, including the distribution of mass.

Observations conducted since 1899 have shown that the North Pole has been drifting south toward eastern parts of Canada at the rate of about 4 inches per year.

But that drift jogged abruptly eastward in 2005 and has totaled about 4 feet in distance since then.

Jianli Chen of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues collected data from NASA’s GRACE satellite, which measures changes in Earth’s gravity field over time in an attempt to find out why the shift occurred.

The measurements allowed them to calculate how melting of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets and mountain glaciers, and the resulting rise in sea level, caused a redistribution of mass on the Earth’s surface.

Computer analysis determined that it matched perfectly what it would take to cause the observed shift in the North Pole’s position.

“Ice melting and sea level change can explain 90 per cent of the (eastward shift),” Chen told the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. “The driving force for the sudden change is climate change.”

His team determined that the largest contributing factor of the shift is the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which is losing about 250 gigatons of ice each year.

North pole webcam: The location of the North Pole has begun to shift eastward from a slow drift down toward Quebec.

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Global Warming

Lake at the North Pole – Update

The North Pole lake that had started forming at the North pole in mid-July has had its fill of Internet notoriety. The stunning blue meltwater lake that formed on the Arctic ice disappeared on Monday (July 29), draining through a crack in the underlying ice floe.

Now, instead of 2 feet (0.6 meters) of freshwater slopping against a bright-yellow buoy, a remote webcam shows only ice and clouds.

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Global Warming

North Pole Now a Lake

Instead of snow and ice whirling on the wind, a foot-deep aquamarine lake now sloshes around a webcam stationed at the North Pole. The meltwater lake started forming July 13, following two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic. In early July, temperatures were 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) higher than average over much of the Arctic Ocean, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Centre.

Meltwater ponds sprout more easily on young, thin ice, which now accounts for more than half of the Arctic’s sea ice. The ponds link up across the smooth surface of the ice, creating a network that traps heat from the sun. Thick and wrinkly multi-year ice, which has survived more than one freeze-thaw season, is less likely sport a polka-dot network of ponds because of its rough, uneven surface.

July is the melting month in the Arctic, when sea ice shrinks fastest. An Arctic cyclone, which can rival a hurricane in strength, is forecast for this week, which will further fracture the ice and churn up warm ocean water, hastening the summer melt. The Arctic hit a record low summer ice melt last year on Sept. 16, 2012, the smallest recorded since satellites began tracking the Arctic ice in the 1970s.

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Environment

North Pole Moves as Ice Sheets Melt

The North Pole’s surprise trip toward Greenland is due to Earth’s rapidly melting ice sheets, according to a new study.

The distribution of mass across the planet determines the position of Earth’s poles. Because Earth is a bit egg-shaped, the North Pole is always slightly off-centre. It’s also been slowly drifting south, responding to long-term changes since the last Ice Age, as the enormous ice sheets that once covered large swaths of the planet melted and parts of the Earth rebounded from the lost weight.

But in 2005, the pole suddenly started making a beeline east for Greenland, moving a few centimetres eastward each year. The cause? Rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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