Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Less Arctic ice means higher risks, experts warn

26.10.2007
The International Ice Charting Working Group predicts more marine transportation in the Arctic as sea ice continues to diminish and warns of "significant hazards to navigation," according to a statement released yesterday.

The statement was released during a five-day conference held at ESRIN, ESA’s Earth Observation Centre in Frascati, Italy, in which operational ice experts from Europe and North America gathered to discuss the state of the polar regions.

"In September 2007, the Arctic sea ice reached the minimum extent – the lowest amount of ice recorded in the area annually – in the history of ice charting based on satellite, aircraft and surface observations, continuing a recent trend of diminishing sea ice that began in the 1980s and has accelerated. While there will still be natural inter-annual variability, the decline is likely to continue," the statement reads.

"The Arctic is already experiencing an increase in shipping, primarily for oil and gas development and tourism, and we can expect to see further increases as diminishing ice extent makes Arctic marine transportation more viable. The International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) cautions that sea ice and icebergs will continue to present significant hazards to navigation for the foreseeable future."

Satellites for monitoring, modelling

During the last 25 years, satellites have been observing the Arctic and have witnessed reductions in the minimum ice extent at the end of summer from around 8 million km² in the early 1980s to the historic minimum of less than 4.24 million km² in 2007, as observed in September by ESA’s Envisat satellite. The previous record low, as observed by Envisat and the EOS Aqua satellite, was in 2005 when the minimum ice extent was 5.5 million km².

"We have been very lucky to have had the capability to monitor the polar regions with satellites since the 1970s because it has allowed us to fully capture the trend," Dr Pablo Clemente-Colón, Chief Scientist at the US National Ice Center and International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) member, said. "Furthermore, because of satellite monitoring we will be able – with a high-degree of precision – to indicate if the trend is reversing, continuing or worsening."

The reduction in the sea ice extent has been much faster than global climate models predict. According to Douglas Bancroft, Director of the Canadian Ice Service, the record reduction in 2007 stunned the international operational ice charting community: "The overall extent was similar to what some of the models envisioned but decades in advance of when they expected that would occur. In fact, the summer of 2007 looked very similar to some climate model forecasts for 2030 to 2050."

Helge Tangen, Regional Director of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, says satellite data are also important for continually updating models. "We are now making more sophisticated models forecasting the ice in the short range. Analysts use the satellite-derived data and put that into the models, which gives them a very good start compared to what we had before."

Satellites for ice services

"With the introduction of space-based systems designed specifically for remote sensing of ice, it is clear that satellites are now the backbone of ice services around the world," Bancroft said. "We primary rely on active radar satellite instruments operating at C-band, such as the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) aboard Canada’s RADARSAT-1 and the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) aboard ESA’s Envisat."

The continuity of these missions, as represented by the forthcoming launches of RADARSAT-2 and the series of GMES Sentinel satellites being developed by ESA, is essential to maintaining operational ice services in the immediate future, Bancroft said.

GMES (the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) responds to Europe’s needs for geo-spatial information services by bringing together the capacity of Europe to collect and manage data and information on the environment and civil security, for the benefit of European citizens.

As the main partner to the European Commission in GMES, ESA is the implementing agency for the GMES Space Component, which will fulfil the space-based observation requirements in response to European policy priorities. The Sentinel missions are the first space missions explicitly conceived to meet the GMES service requirements.

In 2009, ESA will make another significant contribution to polar region research with the launch of CryoSat-2, the agency’s Earth Explorer ice mission. The observations made over the three-year lifetime of the mission will provide conclusive evidence on the rates at which ice cover is diminishing.

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMVLJVH48F_planet_0.html

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>