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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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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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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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Major research stations in the Arctic Major research stations in the Arctic
The Arctic is interesting for many types of researchers. For example, glaciologists study the ice and snow, while oceanographers look at the oceans. The ice, snow and oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic affect the global climate and are presently changing as a result of global warming. Biologists research the plants and animals, which are specially adapted to the polar regions and will be some of the first in the world to be affected by climate ch...
31 Jul 2008 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Antarctic References Antarctic References
Images of Antarctica (left) and Greenland (right) to scale. Antarctica is 50 per cent larger than the United States or Europe. Greenland is 7 times smaller than Antarctica. There is enough ice in Antarctica to raise global sea level by 60 metres and 7 metres in Greenland.
27 Oct 2009 - by Laura Margueritte
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The Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean experiences much less exchange with the atmosphere than other oceans; momentum exchange (wind drag), heat exchange and freshwater exchange are limited due to the sea ice cover.
01 Oct 2009 - by Laura Margueritte
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Global Sea-level Rise Global Sea-level Rise
The loss of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet has increased and will contribute substantially to global sea level rise.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Mass balance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Mass balance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Increase in mass loss by the West Antarctic ice sheet. The mass loss has been steadily increasing since the 1970s as a result of accelerations in glacier flow; snowfall has not changed significantly in Antarctica over the past 50 years.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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South West Greenland Ocean Temperature South West Greenland Ocean Temperature
Initially, meltwater was assumed to be the prime cause of glacier acceleration, making its way to the ground beneath ice sheets, lubricating it and causing the glaciers to flow more quickly to the sea.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Radiation Radiation
Arctic sea ice and atmospheric circulation.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Changes in mass of the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1958-2007.
27 Oct 2009 - by Laura Margueritte
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Arctic Ocean surface Temperatures Arctic Ocean surface Temperatures
Consistent with the rapid retreat of sea ice, the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean have been warming in recent years, because declining sea-ice cover allows the water to absorb more heat from the sun.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Concentration Extent Concentration Extent
Reduced sea ice amplifies warming.
27 Oct 2009 - by Laura Margueritte
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Surface Temperature Surface Temperature
At the regional, ocean basin scale, the area between the insulating sea-ice cover and the open ocean (known as the ice margin) is characterized by particularly strong temperature gradients during winter, favoring the development of low pressure systems along the edge of the ice, as well as smaller, intense features known as polar lows that present hazards to shipping.
27 Oct 2009 - by Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Disappearing lakes - Old Crow Basin, Canada (1951-2001) Disappearing lakes - Old Crow Basin, Canada (1951-2001)
The Arctic contains a variety of types of lakes but overall, it is thermokarst lakes and ponds that are the most abundant and productive aquatic ecosystems in the Arctic. They are found extensively in the lowland regions of western and northern Alaska, Canada and Siberia. These (i.e., thaw) lakes are most commonly formed by the thaw of ice-rich permafrost, which leads to the collapse of ground levels and ponding of surface water in the depression...
17 Mar 2010 - by Hugo Ahlenius, GRID-Arendal & CAFF
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