In the Arctic Circle, on the continental slope off Canada in the Beaufort Sea, the shallowest known deposit of methane hydrate has been discovered. The crystalline solid is comprised of methane molecules trapped in an ice-lattice structure.
Fresh concerns are being expressed about the carbon locked in the Arctic’s permafrost. New studies presented at the American Geophysical Union quantify the amount of soil carbon at about 1.9 trillion metric tons, indicating that previous estimates underestimated the climate risk if this carbon is released due to warming temperatures.
June Arctic snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere dropped by almost 18% per decade over the last 30 years. This drop in snow cover will lower the amount of sunlight reflected away from the planet, which is part of a cooling effect, and result in darker, less reflective soil being exposed to the sun’s rays.
While it may seem that melting arctic snow isn’t as dramatic as the record ice melt that’s occurred this year, the loss of arctic snow potentially has profound consequences for weather patterns, especially in the USA.
If the Arctic continues to melt, there could be more military and commercial activity in this environment. DARPA is working on an all-seeing network of sensors that will track what is happening in the Arctic all year long. This network will include sensors placed on icebergs.
The White Sea Biological Station sits at latitude 66° N, just on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, and on the shores of the White Sea, a lone arctic biologist explores the depths of the waters, photographing stunning pictures of arctic life. The only way to get there is by boat in summer and by snowmobile in winter.
The ESA’s Cryosat mission has been watching the Arctic sea ice with a high degree of precision ever since it was launched in 2010 to monitor the changes in thickness and shape of polar ice. It’s taken two years for scientists to tackle the amount of data that Cryosat generated.