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The Arctic Race

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Antarctic ice shelf thinning speeds up - BBC News. Scientists have their best view yet of the status of Antarctica's floating ice shelves and they find them to be thinning at an accelerating rate. Fernando Paolo and colleagues used 18 years of data from European radar satellites to compile their assessment. In the first half of that period, the total losses from these tongues of ice that jut out from the continent amounted to 25 cubic km per year. But by the second half, this had jumped to 310 cubic km per annum. "For the decade before 2003, ice-shelf volume for all Antarctica did not change much," said Mr Paolo from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, US. "Since then, volume loss has been significant.

The western ice shelves have been persistently thinning for two decades, and earlier gains in the eastern ice shelves ceased in the most recent decade," he told BBC News. The satellite research is published in Science Magazine. Faster flow Many of Antarctica's ice shelves are huge. Modelling capability. The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse. A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters on Feb. 6, 2012.

(NASA handout via Reuters) A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise. Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again.

Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity. [Research casts alarming light on the decline of West Antarctic glaciers] The floating ice shelf of the Totten Glacier covers an area of 90 miles by 22 miles. Sec. Albright & Sec. Shultz On National Security, Climate Change & the Arctic. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held an all-star hearing on January 29th, titled “Global Challenges and the U.S. National Security Strategy.” Witnesses included three former Secretaries of State: Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Dr. Climate change – a “multiplier” of many of the national security threats described by the former Secretaries (and an added barrier to achieving U.S. strategic aims) – was explicitly addressed during the hearing.

Excerpts on climate change Sen. Sec. Secretary Albright’s prepared testimony also included references to the security risks of climate change: None of these challenges pose an existential threat to the United States, but the intensity – and complexity – of them can seem daunting … particularly after we have been through more than 13 years of protracted war, and threats such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, disease, and food and water shortages also loom on the horizon. And: Related There will be two hearings in the U.S. Dr. The end and beginning of the Arctic.

The Race To Claim the North Pole Is Heating Up. The race for ownership of the North Pole is heating up. After 12 years and $50 million of research, Denmark has surveyed the 2,000-kilometer-long underwater mountain range that runs north of Siberia and concluded that it is geologically attached to Greenland, the huge autonomous territory that, along with the Faroe Islands, is controlled by Denmark. (Denmark’s broader strategy on the Arctic can be found here. (pdf)) As a result, the kingdom is claiming 895,541 square kilometers (556,463 square miles) of the North Pole—an area about 20 times the size of Denmark.

“This is a historical milestone for Denmark… [and now] comes a political process,” the Danish foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, said. “I expect this to take some time. Denmark has made four previous claims, but it has now become the first country to declare outright ownership of the North Pole. (Related: Russia Steps Up Its Militarization of the North Pole) Why the land rush for an icy wilderness at the top of the globe? Melting Arctic Warms up Cold War. This image made available by the Norwegian Military on Thursday, June 5, 2014 shows a Norwegian vessel passing through the Bosporus in Istanbul Turkey, on March 2, 2014. The mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left a Romanian wharf, glided through the narrow Bosporus that separates Europe and Asia, and plotted a course toward Scandinavia.

About a month later, at the fenced-in headquarters of Norway’s military intelligence service, the country’s spy chief disclosed its identity. It was a $250 million spy ship, tentatively named Marjata, that will be equipped with sensors and other technology to snoop on Russia’s activities in the Arctic beginning in 2016. (AP Photo/Norwegian Military) In early March, a mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left a Romanian wharf, glided through the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia and plotted a course toward Scandinavia. Most recent graph of current ice melt season from National Snow and Ice Data Center. Russian military forming drone squadron for Arctic reconnaisance. MOSCOW, November 13. /TASS/. Military chiefs in eastern Russia are assembling a drone squadron operating from the Arctic region's autonomous Chukotka region, spokesman Colonel Alexander Gordeyev told TASS on Thursday.

The unit of unmanned aerial vehicles will be based at a military airfield near the city of Anadyr, staffed exclusively by contract servicemen, he said. They will ensure sea navigation security and conduct coastal air reconnaissance over Russian territorial waters. Expanding Russia’s presence in the Arctic is one of the key tasks the country’s authorities. The formation of the Arctic military command is part of Russia’s ongoing extensive program to build up military presence in the Arctic.

Russia announced it was recreating its military base on the Novosibirsk Islands in the Laptev Sea. The construction of the Tiksi airdrome in Yakutia’s northernmost locality, inside the Arctic circle, will be completed in 2015. U.S. Navy eyes greater presence in Arctic. Source: Yahoo The U.S. Navy is mapping out how to expand its presence in the Arctic beginning about 2020, given signs that the region’s once permanent ice cover is melting faster than expected, which is likely to trigger more traffic, fishing and resource mining.

“The Arctic is all about operating forward and being ready. We don’t think we’re going to have to do war-fighting up there, but we have to be ready,” said Rear Admiral Jonathan White, the Navy’s top oceanographer and navigator, and director of the Navy’s climate change task force. “We don’t want to have a demand for the Navy to operate up there, and have to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t go,’” he said. The Navy this week released an “aggressive” update to its 2009 Arctic plan after a detailed analysis of data from a variety of sources showed that seasonal ice is disappearing faster than had been expected even three years ago. It also puts a big focus on cooperation with other Arctic nations and with the U.S.

Be Sociable, Share! Analysis - Arctic Steampunk: The New Age of Cold Weather Data Infrastructure. By Scott Smith Exploring Arctic and near-Arctic solutions to global demand for faster, cheaper and more sustainable data storage and computing infrastructure. Even as miles physically travelled are decreasing globally, the ability to generate a different kind of traffic—from data—is starting to shape geography in ways not usually associated with virtual worlds. Digital flows require physical infrastructure in the form of power hungry data centres and network links. Telecoms and major data hoarders from Silicon Valley and beyond, seeking to base and manage the enormous resources that this requires, have begun looking north for solutions. Google’s Hamina Project Google was an early mover in 2009 when it announced its purchase of a mothballed facility in Hamina, Finland, a paper mill originally built by Stora Enso in 1953.

There were two reasons for the Hamina acquisition. Google’s Hamina project provided a substantial early test of sea-cooled data centre design. Greener data. Another Arctic Spill Is Inevitable, and We Are in No Way Prepared. The relentless search for new oil sources and increasingly ice-free seas are setting the stage for a petroleum gold rush in the Arctic. And with expensive, risky deepwater drilling in harsh seas will come inevitable oil spills—spills that the industry and regulators aren't ready to handle.

That's the finding of a broad study from the National Research Council that surveyed the future of Arctic oil exploration. The lengthy report looks at a wide variety of potential scenarios, and comes to a stark conclusion: As oil and shipping companies begin to invest in the Arctic, there isn't enough research examining how the Arctic is changing and how to respond to oil spills in such a unique environment. And there currently aren't enough resources in place for spill response, either. In total, the hurdles posed by the Arctic are vast. The authors note that, since 1979, end-of-summer Arctic sea ice cover has declined 13.7 percent per decade.

It's a strong conclusion, but it's not unprecedented. Russia Ships The World's First Load of Offshore Arctic Oil. Russia has announced its first shipment of Arctic offshore oil. Russian President Vladimir Putin watched oil loading from the Prirazlomnoye drilling platform onto a tanker Friday via video link, according to state-run ITAR-TASS, and celebrated the shipment as the beginning of a bigger Russian presence on world energy markets.

The 70,000 metric ton load (roughly 490,000 gallons) is, as far as we know, the world's first market-sized shipment of oil extracted from the floor of any marine body above the Arctic Circle. Offshore oil extraction has only become commercially viable in recent years, as advances in petroleum technologies have combined with warming temperatures to ease, slightly, the physical and financial challenges of drilling in the harsh Arctic environment. Greenpeace and others have charged that the potential for an oil spill is too risky in the easily damaged Arctic environment, which includes important fisheries in the Barents Sea.

The new arctic Silk Road

Methane release. MAPS. Arctic online resources. Countries. Politics. Geostrategic dimensions. NGOs & Activists. Companies.