ARCTIC NATION: Temperatures Higher, Iceland Seeks Catbird Seat, Less Ice More Shipping

October 31, 2013 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Arctic Temperatures Waaay Up

A new study by scientists at the University of Colorad-Boulder indicates that average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic over the last 100 years are higher than during any century in the past 44,000 years.

University of Colorado-Boulder professor Gifford Miller collecting dead plant samples from the edge of a Baffin Island ice cap. (University of Colorado photo)

University of Colorado-Boulder professor Gifford Miller collecting dead plant samples from the edge of a Baffin Island ice cap. (University of Colorado photo)

According to CU-Coulder Professor Gifford Miller, the study is the first direct evidence that the present warmth in the Eatern Canadian Arctic exceeds peak warmth in that same region during the current Holcene geological epoch – when the solar energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was 9 percent greater than it is today.

The Holocene epoch began after Earth’s last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today. Miller and his colleagues used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks to determine what happened. At four different ice caps, radiocarbon dates show the mosses had not been exposed to the elements since at least 44,000 to 51,000 years ago.

Since radiocarbon dating is only accurate to about 50,000 years and because Earth’s geological record shows it was in a glaciation stage before that time, the indications are that Canadian Arctic temperatures today have not been matched or exceeded for roughly 120,000 years, Miller said.

The journal Geophysical Researcher Letters published the study’s findings this week.

Iceland Seeks to be Arctic Hub

Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson tells Bloomberg.

The island nation is focusing its foreign policy on the Arctic Sveinsson said, adding that it will seek deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, Bloomberg reported.

With temperatures rising and sea ice melting, the Arctic is attracting a lot of attention from the nations that border the polar region and countries like China seeking to navigate new ice-free shipping routes across the High North. The sea ice recession could also open the area up to oil and gas exploration. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its untapped oil may lie beneath the Arctic Ocean’s waters.

Arctic Waters Could Get Crowded Soon

Arctic Regions

Arctic Regions

Satellite photos by NASA, show that the white Arctic ice around the North Pole is shrinking every summer and is being replaced by more open water. And that means an increase in commercial shipping across the Arctic, reports the Voice of America.

Last summer, China sent its first icebreaker over the top of Russia, from Shanghai to Iceland. And this summer, a freighter operated by China’s COSCO shipping company, became the first Chinese merchant vessel to take the shortcut, cutting two weeks off the usual route, through Egypt’s Suez Canal, according to VOA.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, National Security and Defense, News Developments. Tags: , , , , , , .

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