Thanks for the 2 million signatures for Saving the Arctic.
When you’re as far north as we are right now, communications come to you like telegrams; they’re few and far between, and only the most important make it through. So when Steve, the radio operator on board the Arctic Sunrise, hand-delivered me a message today, I knew it was going to be good. “Two million people have now signed the petition to protect the Arctic!” Continue reading →
A polar bear and her cub walk across melting ice floes above the Arctic Circle north of Russia on Sept. 11, 2012, as sea ice continued to melt below the previous record set in 2007. On September 16, scientists determined that the sea ice had reached the minimum for the year, a loss of at least 45 percent since records began. This new record is not likely to stand long.
Polar Bears pass near the Arctic Sunrise
Daniel Beltrá captured the September 2012 Photo of the Month with the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise beyond the bears. The combination of the iconic endangered species facing extinction as its habitat melts away and the ship’s scientific mission at the sea ice edge to witness and measure the climate extreme is amazing.
The Arctic Sunrise navigates through the Arctic during the lowest sea ice level on record
Two of the scientists traveling with Greenpeace on the Arctic Sunrise are Dr. Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), and Nick Toberg, an ice scientist at Cambridge University. I asked them what research they would be able to do on the ice, and for some insight into why Arctic sea ice is so important, and what impact the melting would have on our climate.
What will you be doing on the ice? Julienne: I’ll be measuring ice thickness – it’s a more important measure than ice extent as it tells you about volume (total) loss. I can measure thickness in different spots by drilling with a hand augur, which can go two metres deep. I also hope to look at snow thickness, whether there are melt pools on the ice and whether they are frozen. As the ship is traveling we will also measure the ocean temperatures.
Nick: We will test impact of ocean waves as they hit the ice edge, using buoys fitted with accelerometers. This will fill in the missing physics of how the strength of the waves adds to the ice breaking up and melting. Broken ice reflects sunlight less well as the sun’s rays are absorbed into the ocean beneath. The lack of ice creates even stronger waves which break the ice up more the following year. Continue reading →
Greenpeace polar bears pay a visit to oil giant Gazprom's headquarters in Moscow
I was on board our ship Arctic Sunrise, rolling on the swell of the eastern Barents sea, far north in the Russian Arctic, looking through the binoculars at a rusting hulk of Prirazlomnaya, the first ice-capable permanent oil platform to be placed in the Arctic ocean.
The monstrous steel cube, rising up like a futuristic metal fortification from the pristine Arctic waters was more than just an eye-sore. It was a personification and a perfect example of the industrialization that this extremely sensitive environment is exposed to, not least by the oil giants who are more and more fixing their gaze on the far North of the planet, as the climate-change driven ice-melt is making the Arctic Ocean open to navigation for some months every year. Continue reading →
This evening, 15 hours after boarding Gazprom’s Arctic oil platform in the Pechora Sea, six Greenpeace International activists including Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo voluntarily left the platform. In freezing temperatures, the climbers were constantly hosed with water by Gazprom workers who appeared more intent on endangering the safety of peaceful activists than operating the platform above.
To avoid unnecessary risk in these freezing Arctic conditions the activists have decided to come down. The same cannot be said of Gazprom, which appears determined to continue its reckless drilling programme in one of the most fragile places on earth. The bravery of all of these climbers interrupted a major Arctic oil operation and by doing so brought the world’s attention to this era defining issue. This occupation was just one part of a new movement to save the Arctic that will not be intimidated by water cannons or other forms of corporate brutality.
This week as our crew on the Arctic Sunrisehighlights the mass plundering taking place at sea by European super trawlers in West Africa; our team on land in Senegal and Mauritania have met some of the communities who have been affected by this modern day pillage.
They met local fishermen who are forced to go further out to sea in their traditional boats as their local waters have been dramatically overfished by foreign vessels. Some of these trawlers – many from Europe – are literally floating fish factories, capable of catching, processing and freezing 250 tonnes a day. Continue reading →
Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise is currently in Mauritanian waters, to highlight the problems of overfishing emptying African seas. Vast factory-style fishing boats are trawling out fish at an alarming rate and decimating local ecosystems and livelihoods in the process.
The campaign team at sea have already encountered a number of these super trawlers, in the seas off Senegal last week. Boats from as far away as Russia and China fish these waters, but scandalously the EU is also exporting its own overfishing to West Africa. Continue reading →