FRIDAY FOTO (June 21/22, 2019)

June 22, 2019 at 6:09 am Leave a comment

The “Almost” Midnight Sun.

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Midnight sun over the northern end of Storfjorden (Great Fjord) in Svalbard archipelago. (Photo by John M. Doyle, Copyright 4GWAR)

What’s wrong with this photo?

Taken Friday, June 21, 2019 off the eastern side of Spitsbergen Island, almost 600 miles north/northwest of Norway in the Barents Sea, this photograph shows the sun still up an hour before midnight. But that’s not unusual in the Arctic during summer solstice.

However, what’s wrong with this image is the nearly ice-free water. Even in summer, the waters around Spitsbergen would normally have presented a seascape thick with pack ice spread across miles of water, like this photo, taken a day later in a different area.

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Arctic sea Ice in northern Storfjorden (Great Fjord). (Photo by John M. Doyle, Copyright 4GWAR Blog)

But warmer weather, due to climate change, has led to a dramatic decline in sea ice, posing both risks and opportunities for the region.  The Arctic is heating up at more than twice the rate of the rest of the globe and the northern Barents Sea is becoming much warmer, according to the Barents Observer. Also, new sea ice created over the winter months is thinner and melts in summer, resulting in an overall loss of sea ice.

The increasing climate shift affects the habitat and  food supplies of all types of wildlife from Polar bears and walrus, to birds, fish and other types of sea life. It also poses dire consequences for humans. In Longyearbyen (population 2,200) the largest town on Spitsbergen — and the northernmost permanent community in the world — houses are sagging as the permafrost beneath them melts. Take-offs and landings at Longyearbyen airport are surprisingly bumpy and rough — not because there’s anything wrong with the plane or the runway but because the permafrost beneath the runway is melting and spongey. Longyearbyen is something of a canary in a coal mine, warning of environmental dangers to come for the rest of the planet.

Meanwhile, the reduced sea ice is opening up opportunities for year-round commercial navigation through the Arctic Ocean as well as increased mining, fishing and oil drilling (it has been estimated that 1/5 of the world’s undiscovered petroleum reserves lie beneath Arctic waters).  However, those activities also raise major concerns about damage to the environment and indigenous communities’ way of life as well as, maritime safety and increasing national security issues.

Entry filed under: Arctic, ARCTIC NATION, Army, climate change, FRIDAY FOTO, HIGH NORTH, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Photos, Technology, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

SHAKO: The King’s Guard FRIDAY FOTO (June 28, 2019)

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