Seismic Testing for Oil Reserves a Threat to Arctic Marine Life, Study Warns

Seismic airguns are being fired underwater off the east coast of Greenland to find new oil reserves in the Arctic Ocean. But this activity “could seriously injure” whales and other marine life, warns a new report conducted by Marine Conservation Research and commissioned by Greenpeace Nordic.

The oil industry is increasingly looking towards the region, as oil and gas reserves become more accessible as climate change causes large areas of Arctic sea ice to melt.

Global oil companies including BP, Chevron and Shell all own drilling rights in the Greenland Sea and are the likely customers for the data gathered by the Norwegian geophysical company conducting the seismic testing, TGS-Nopec.

"Goliath" Melting Year Shatters Records in Greenland

It’s been a “Goliath,” record-setting melting year in Greenland, home of the world’s second largest ice shelf. On August 8th, a full four weeks before the end of “melting season,” cumulative melting on the island had exceeded the previous record set in 2010, which included the full season.

The record melt was figured by the “cumulative melting index,” created by researcher Marco Tedesco of The City College of New York’s Cryosphere Processes Laboratory to measure the “strength” of the melting season. The index is basically the number of days when melting occurs multiplied by the physical area that is subject to melting.

Tedesco said in a statement, “With more yet to come in August, this year’s overall melting will fall way above the old records. That’s a goliath year – the greatest melt since satellite recording began in 1979.”

Earlier this summer, much was made of a massive melt event on Greenland, during which 97 percent of the island’s ice sheet surface area experienced thaw and melt over a short couple of days. While the event was startling, and a direct result of record high surface air temperatures, this measure of the overall melting is far more alarming.

Black Day in July for Greenland Ice Sheet

How hot is it this year?

Maybe the breaking of thousands of temperature records across the USA so far this year didn't get your attention.

Perhaps you have yet to be presented with the scary facts in Bill McKibben's latest article about Climate Change's New Math.

Well if you missed those cheery bits of reporting, have a gander at this shocking graph from that shows a mind-blowing change in Greenland's ice sheet “albedo.” It has literally fallen off the chart in comparison to previous years.

The Tipping Points

As the world dithers, climate scientists are peering into their crystal balls to predict when the next shoe will drop. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of international researchers led by Elmar Kriegler of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research surveyed 43 leading scientists to estimate the likelihood of a tipping point occurring in the near future.

The four tipping points the researchers studied include the restructuring of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (also known as the ocean conveyor belt or thermohaline circulation), the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the increased frequency of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon.

Based on the scientists’ feedback, they concluded that there is a one in six chance that at least one tipping point will be triggered under conditions of medium warming (2 – 4ºC) and a more than one in two chance (56%) under conditions of high warming (4 – 8ºC) by 2200.

Michael Steele Helps Make "Sense" of Global Warming

Ever since ascending to the top of the party leadership, it’s been one humiliating misstep after another for beleaguered Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

What started out as a relatively benign, though admittedly idiotic sounding, attempt to remake the party’s image and grow its ranks by “planning an ‘off the hook’ public-relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party’s principles to urban-suburban hip-hop settings” (no, really, he said that) quickly became a very public train wreck following a series of stumbles and misstatements.

His stances on abortion rights and homosexuality have earned him the enmity of the religious, conservative wing of the party while his threats of deploying primary challengers against three popular GOP senators who supported President Obama’s stimulus package have angered the moderates. On one issue, though, Steele stands firmly with the wingnut crowd of his party: global warming.

Global warming to devastate economies, nature in ice-loss sweep

A new United Nations study says hundreds of millions of livelihoods will be affected by melting snow and ice due to climate change , and time is running out for political leaders to reach agreement on curbing emissions.

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