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Historical trends in carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature Historical trends in carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature
The more recent history, from the middle ages and up until now, show increasing temperatures, rising as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age (LIA), around 1850. With the industrial era, human activities have at the same time increased the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases, and scientists have been able to connect human activities ...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Major global bird migration routes to the Arctic Major global bird migration routes to the Arctic
Bird species that migrate to the Arctic coasts and wetlands arrive from nearly every corner of the planet. During the summer, the sun never or nearly never sets, resulting in a short but intensive breeding season when millions of migratory birds arrive in the Arctic to breed. The majority of these birds seek the wetlands and coastal shores of the tundra plains. No other place on Earth receives so many migratory species from nearly all corners of ...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Temperature increases in the Antarctic due to climate change, 2090 (NCAR-CCM3, SRES A2 experiment) Temperature increases in the Antarctic due to climate change, 2090 (NCAR-CCM3, SRES A2 experiment)
Climate change, due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has not lead as clear changes in the Antarctic as in the Arctic. Some of the ice shelves of the Antarctic peninsula have split up and started moving more rapidly, but the analyses of the Antarctic ice sheet are inconclusive. The projected climate situation in 2090 are presented in this figure, the temperatures are annual values from the NCAR-CCM3 model, ensembl...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Population distribution in the circumpolar Arctic, by country (including indigenous population) Population distribution in the circumpolar Arctic, by country (including indigenous population)
The Arctic represents one of the most desolate and sparsely populated areas in the World, with few economic opporunities and inhostile climate. This map - based on the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR) definition of the Arctic, presents the distribution by country. Note that except for Greenland and Northern Canada, indigenous peoples form a minority, though they can form the majority in local communities. They are therefore particularly vul...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Climate change - ice and snow and the albedo effect Climate change - ice and snow and the albedo effect
Changes in the polar regions can cause more warming in the entire planet earth system through feedback effects. One such effect is the reduction of ice and snow due to warmer temperatures. When the white and gray snow and ice disappears, less sun rays are reflected out and instead the heat is absorbed by land and sea - which causes further increase in the warming.
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage compared with currently used shipping routes Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage compared with currently used shipping routes
Climate models project that summer sea ice in the Arctic Basin will retreat further and further away from most Arctic landmasses, opening new shipping routes and extending the navigation season in the Northern Sea Route by between two and four months. Previously frozen areas in the Arctic may therefore become seasonally or permanently navigable, increasing the prospects for marine transport through the Arctic and providing greater access to Arcti...
01 Oct 2007 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Population and main oil and gas production areas in the Arctic Population and main oil and gas production areas in the Arctic
The Arctic represents one of the least populated areas in the world, with only sparse settlements and very few large cities and towns - in comparison with e.g. continental Europe. The largest cities are in Northwest Russia, and Reykjavik is the only national capital in the Arctic. The extraction of natural resources has emerge as a main interest and priority in the Arctic region, and this may cause increases and shifts in population.
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Vegetation density/distribution in the high Arctic Vegetation density/distribution in the high Arctic
The current vegetation density and distribution in the high Arctic can be calculated using satellite images. The vegetation index, 'greenness' (NDVI) represents a benchmark of the presence and ratio of photosynthesis. In monitoring the vegetation, scientists can keep an eye on the situation and use the index as an indicator of climate change - increased temperatures would enable the forest and tundra to move further north.
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Arctic, topography and bathymetry (topographic map) Arctic, topography and bathymetry (topographic map)
The Arctic is extremely diverse in terms of landscapes, varying from pack and drift ice to rugged shores, flat coastal plains, rolling hills and mountains surpassing 6000 metres above sea level (Denali, 6,194 m asl, in sub-arctic and boreal Alaska). The region has rivers and lakes, tundra and the largest forests in the world (the Russian Taiga).
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Cold places on the Southern Continent Cold places on the Southern Continent
Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. This graph shows the annual temperatures and seasonal variation at three locations in Antarctica - the research bases Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile - on the Antarctic Peninsula), Scott Base (New Zealand - Ross Island) and one of the coldest places on the planet - the Vostok station (Russia - at the center of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet). The surface temperatures are long term average...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Antarctica, topography and bathymetry (topographic map) Antarctica, topography and bathymetry (topographic map)
Antarctic is the fifth largest continent of the world at 14 million square kilometres and is covered by a permanent continental ice sheet. The ice is distributed in two major ice sheets, the East Antarctic and the West Antarctic, and in addition there are shelf ice, extending over the sea water. Antarctic inland ice ranges in thickness up to 5000 m, with an average thickness of about 2400 m, making Antarctica by far the highest of the continents....
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Increases in annual temperatures for a recent five-year period, relative to 1951-1980 Increases in annual temperatures for a recent five-year period, relative to 1951-1980
Warming is widespread, generally greater over land than over oceans, and the largest gains in temperatures for the planet are over the North American Arctic, north central Siberia, and on the Antarctic Peninsula. These recent increases in temperature are confirmed by changes in other features: loss of sea ice, shift of tundra to shrub vegetation, and migration of marine and terrestrial ecosystems to higher latitudes.
01 Jun 2007 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Protected areas, Arctic and Antarctic Protected areas, Arctic and Antarctic
Protected areas are very important for conserving biodiversity. In these areas, human activities are managed to achieve specific conservation goals, for example, to protect a certain species or to conserve a representative habitat or ecosystem. The Arctic has many terrestrial protected areas, but is generally lacking in marine protected areas (MPAs). As the climate warms and the sea ice melts, there will be greater access for activities such as f...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Arctic sea ice minimum extent in September 1982 and 2008 Arctic sea ice minimum extent in September 1982 and 2008
The red line indicates the median minimum extent of the ice cover for the period 1979–2000. This figure compares the Arctic sea ice extent in September for the years 1982 (the record maximum since 1979) and 2008. The ice extent was 7.5 million km2 in 1982 and only 5.6 million km2 in 2005 and down to 4.3 million km2 in 2007. As has been observed in other recent years, the retreat of the ice cover was particularly pronounced along the Eurasian coas...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Extreme days and nights - daylight variation in the Arctic: Reykjavik, Murmansk and Alert Extreme days and nights - daylight variation in the Arctic: Reykjavik, Murmansk and Alert
The Arctic and Antarctic have long nights in the winter and long days in the summer. Above the Arctic Circle (66 °N), there is at least one day with no sun– polar night, and one day with no night— midnight sun. This graph shows the length of day through the year for three places in the Arctic: Reykjavik, Iceland, is the only national capital in the Arctic, Murmansk, Russia, is one of the largest cities in the nort and finally Alert, Canada, the n...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Projected temperature increases in the Arctic due to climate change, 2090 (NCAR-CCM3, SRES A2 experiment) Projected temperature increases in the Arctic due to climate change, 2090 (NCAR-CCM3, SRES A2 experiment)
Climate change, due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has lead to increased temperatures and large scale changes in the Arctic. The Arctic sea ice is decreasing, permafrost thawing and the glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking. The projected climate situation in 2090 are presented in this figure, the temperatures are annual values from the NCAR-CCM3 model, ensemble averages 1-5 for the SRES A2 experiment. The ice ...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Cryosphere - winter seasons, Northern and Southern Hemispheres Cryosphere - winter seasons, Northern and Southern Hemispheres
Seasonal variation in the extent of ice and snow cover is greatest in the Northern Hemisphere. Imagine the Earth with white caps on the top and bottom. The top cap increases by a factor of six from summer to winter, while the bottom cap only doubles from summer to winter. This difference is due to snow cover: in the Northern Hemisphere snow cover on land varies from less than 2 million km2 in the summer to 40 to 50 million km2 in the winter3. The...
01 Jun 2007 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Coldwater coral reefs, distribution Coldwater coral reefs, distribution
Scientists are just beginning to learn about the many species in the remote, deep waters of the polar oceans. Corals, for example, are not limited to the warm, shallow waters of the tropics. They also exist in many cold, deep waters all over the world, including Arctic and sub-Antarctic waters. Coral reefs are marine ridges or mounds, which have formed over millennia as a result of the deposition of calcium carbonate by living organisms, predomin...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Vegetation and land cover in the Arctic Vegetation and land cover in the Arctic
The land mass in the Arctic - Greenland and parts of Canada, Alaska, Russia and the Nordic countries - surrounds the Arctic Ocean. In the low Arctic, down to the temperate regions, the taiga coniferous forests represents a vast band of deep forests. North of the taiga, the tundra of the Arctic - with low vegetation, shrubs and various degrees of permafrosts spreads out. Beyond the tundra, there might be barren regions with only rock and few plant...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Fisheries in the Southern Ocean Fisheries in the Southern Ocean
Fisheries, together with tourism, represents a major economic activity around Antarctica. In the old days whales were hunted for oil - these days fish and krill are captured for fish meal and human consumption. The areas in the Southern Atlantic are vastly more productive, and this is where most of the fish is caught. The top fishing vessels hail from Japan, Ukraine and Poland. Worth mentioning is that these figures are still small compared to th...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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