24 Mar 2011:
Low Arctic Winter Ice;
Polar Region Experiences Ozone Loss
The maximum extent of winter sea ice in the Arctic, reached earlier this month, tied for the lowest maximum ever measured
, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the
Click to enlarge
National Snow and Ice Data Center
Arctic sea ice extent, March, 2011
University of Colorado. This year, maximum sea ice extent in the Arctic reached 5.65 million square miles, roughly 460,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. That maximum matches the previous record low maximum, set in 2006. Walt Meier, a research scientist at the NSIDC, said one reason for this year’s lower sea ice maximum is that autumn sea ice growth is increasingly delayed by rising Arctic temperatures, meaning ice extent is not able to “catch up” in winter. Meanwhile, scientists report that protective ozone in the upper layers of the Arctic atmosphere has been reduced by about half this year
and that the Arctic, for the first time in recorded history, may experience an ozone hole similar to the one over the Antarctic. Ozone is destroyed by chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals, and destruction intensifies as temperatures in the stratosphere decrease. Scientists say that heat trapped at lower levels by greenhouse gases may be making the stratosphere colder. Low-ozone air from the Arctic may drift as far south as New York this spring, possibly increasing risks of skin cancer.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.