Melting sea ice blamed for UK Arctic weather

December 25, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

Scientists are claiming melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is the cause of the bitter polar weather causing chaos across Europe.

Recent meteorological reports claim a high pressure area over the Atlantic resulting in the repositioning of the jet stream combined with the influence of La Nina are responsible for the current bleak midwinter. Scientists in Germany, however, are forming a complementary theory, with climate experts at the Potsdam Institute suggesting melting sea ice could be the cause.

The institutes Vladimir Petoukov believes the big freeze is a result of global warming causing sea ice in the Arctic to melt, changing wind patterns across the northern hemisphere and bringing icy blasts of freezing air across the UK. He expects the trend to continue, with Britain shivering in the grip of longer and colder winters.

Petoukov states the disappearing sea ice will have an unpredictable effect on the climate in the northern hemisphere due to a complex and powerful feedback mechanism detected in the Barents-Kara Sea. He adds that colder winters are not disproving the global warming theory, but are supplementing it.

The Arctics floating ice cover is though to have diminished by around 20 per cent in recent years, with temperatures rising at up to three times the global average. As the ice melts, the comparatively warm sea water loses its heat to the atmosphere, causing an area of high pressure to form. This creates clockwise Arctic winds which sweep southwards over northern Europe and the UK.

Although the climate research institute states its too early to link the last two years bitter winters to changes in the Arctic, it believes the theory resulting from the research is strong. and predicts freezing winters will continue for around 50 years, after which warmer winter conditions will develop.

Article source: http://news.carrentals.co.uk/melting-sea-ice-blamed-for-uk-arctic-weather-34230354.html

Preserving sandy beach ecosystems – the way forward

March 4, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Protecting Habitats

European Commission DG ENV, Science for Environment Policy Environment News Alert Service
Special Issue 8, Sept 2008

European sandy beach.

The combined impacts of climate change and increasing population pressures on coastal areas for living and recreation have placed beach ecosystems under severe pressure. New research suggests efforts to preserve the biodiversity of sandy beach ecosystems should be undertaken within the framework of Integrated Coastal Management(1). The aim is to integrate the physical protection of coastlines with the conservation of threatened ecosystems.

As key recreational sites, sandy beaches are of prime social, cultural and economic importance and dominate the world’s coastlines. They also provide critical and irreplaceable ecosystem services and there is a growing recognition of the ecological value of beaches. However, current beach management is largely concerned with managing sand budgets and erosion, while ecological aspects are rarely considered.

Co-operation between beach managers and ecologists is therefore important, according to the researchers. They produced 50 ‘key statements’ summarising how essential features of sandy beach ecosystems function and are structured, which include defining the physical features of beaches, the functioning of beaches as ecosystems and incorporating the protection of beach ecosystems with wider management practices.

The researchers suggest that climate change will have a significant impact on the ecology of sandy beaches. It is
anticipated that climate change will affect the following:

  • Sea levels – Average sea levels have risen by 0.17 metres in the last century and there are more occurrences
    of damaging high seas during storms. Continued loss of beaches will severely impact on coastal habitats and
    communities.
  • Extreme weather events – It is likely that changes in cyclone and storm behaviour will produce higher and more
    powerful waves, increasing beach erosion.
  • Precipitation - the pattern of precipitation is changing with more incidences of floods and altered freshwater flow
    to the oceans and this will affect the ecology of the beaches.
  • Changes in the ENSO (El-Niño-Southern Oscillation) events cause alterations to precipitation and this may
    affect beach ecosystems.
  • Within decades, acidification of the oceans will negatively affect marine organisms that need calcium carbonate to form shells, such as urchins and snails.


Four principles have been proposed by the researchers to integrate the ecological and physical aspects of management strategies for sandy beaches, which will help beach ecosystems withstand the pressures of climate change. It is suggested that ecologists, managers and policy makers work together at all levels of decision making in implementing effective and enduring strategies to conserve coastal ecosystems. There is also a need for further development of modelling techniques to study the impacts of climate change on beach ecology and to combine this with the effects that various management strategies will have on beach systems.

A further issue highlighted by the study are the special difficulties caused by tidal conditions for scientists trying to study beach organisms. The researchers have consequently produced a code of ‘best practice’ which contains 11 recommendations to help ecologists develop the most appropriate methods when collecting samples.

1. See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/iczm/ for information on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe

Source: Schlacher, T.A., Schoeman, D.S., Dugan, J. et al. (2008). Sandy beach ecosystems: key features, sampling issues, management challenges and climate change impacts. Marine Ecology. 29(Suppl. 1): 70-90.
Contact: tschlach@usc.edu.au

Sea levels set to rise faster than expected

November 27, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

Geneva, Switzerland: Even warming of less than 2°C might be enough to trigger the loss of Arctic sea ice and the meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet, causing global sea levels to rise by several metres.

Ahead of next week’s meeting of governments in Poznan, Poland for UN climate talks WWF analysis of the latest climate science comes to the dire conclusion that humanity is approaching the last chance to keep global warming below the danger threshold of 2°C.

”The latest science confirms that we are now seeing devastating consequences of warming that were not expected to hit for decades,” said Kim Carstensen, WWF Global Climate Initiative leader.

“The early meltdown of ice in the Arctic and Greenland may soon prompt further dangerous climate feedbacks, accelerating warming faster and stronger than forecast.

“Responsible politicians cannot dare to waste another second on delaying tactics in the face of these urgent warnings from nature.

“The planet is now facing a new quality of change, increasingly difficult to adapt to and soon impossible to reverse.

“Governments in Poznan must agree to peak and decline global emissions well before 2020 to give people reasonable hope that global warming can still be kept within limits that prevent the worst.

“In addition to constructive discussions in Poznan we need to see signals for immediate action.”

The CO2 storage capacity of oceans and land surface – the Earth’s natural sinks – has been decreasing by 5 per cent over the last 50 years. At the same time, manmade CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have been increasing – four times faster in this decade than in the previous decade.

WWF is urging governments to use the Poznan talks for an immediate U-turn away from the fatal direction the world is heading in.

“We are at the point where our climate system is starting to spin out of control,” said Carstensen. “A single year is left to agree a new global treaty that can protect the climate, but the UN talks next year in Copenhagen can only deliver this treaty if the meeting in Poznan this year develops a strong negotiation text.”

Article copyright WWF