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Arctic sea ice coverage drops below 1.5M square miles for second time since 1979

Arctic sea ice coverage drops below 1.5M square miles for second time since 1979

Science
Sept. 13 (UPI) -- For just the second time since scientists started tracking Arctic sea ice coverage in 1979, the sea ice extent has dropped below 1.5 million square miles, or 4 million square kilometers. Every autumn, the Arctic sea ice coverage reaches its minimum extent, before expanding as temperatures rise. Though the sea ice is still shrinking, the minimum extent still days away, coverage is already approaching record lows. "Our satellite data show that between March and April 2019, there was an unusually large decrease in the ice extent, from which the Arctic sea ice was unable to recover," Christian Haas, a geophysicist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, said in a news release. The Arctic's rapid springtime melting suggested sea ice coverage was destined for an all-time low, but fl...
Snow, sea ice littered with microplastics in the Arctic

Snow, sea ice littered with microplastics in the Arctic

Science
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Scientists have found surprisingly large amounts of microplastics in snow and sea ice samples collected in the Arctic and Alps. The research offers another reminder that tiny bits of plastic pollution can be transported long distances. Scientists estimate that snow washes microplastics out of the atmosphere, carrying them back to Earth's surface where they can accumulate in places like the Arctic. Researchers found microplastic concentrations as high as 14,400 particles per liter in Arctic snow samples. In one snow sample collected by the side of a rural road in the Bavarian Alps, researchers measured 154,000 particles per liter. The samples collected by scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Swiss WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF featured ...
Plastic particles falling out of sky with snow in Arctic

Plastic particles falling out of sky with snow in Arctic

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Even in the Arctic, microscopic particles of plastic are falling out of the sky with snow, a study has found.The scientists said they were shocked by the sheer number of particles they found: more than 10,000 of them per litre in the Arctic.It means that even there, people are likely to be breathing in microplastics from the air - though the health implications remain unclear.The region is often seen as one of the world's last pristine environments.A German-Swiss team of researchers has published the work in the journal Science Advances.The scientists also found rubber particles and fibres in the snow.How did the researchers carry out the study? ...
Arctic wildfires: What’s caused huge swathes of flames to spread?

Arctic wildfires: What’s caused huge swathes of flames to spread?

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Wildfires are ravaging the Arctic, with areas of northern Siberia, northern Scandinavia, Alaska and Greenland engulfed in flames. Lightning frequently triggers fires in the region but this year they have been worsened by summer temperatures that are higher than average because of climate change.Plumes of smoke from the fires can be seen from space. Mark Parrington, a wildfires expert at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams), described them as "unprecedented".How bad is it? There are hundreds of fires covering mostly uninhabited regions across eastern Russia, northern Scandinavia, Greenland and Alaska. ...
Lead trapped in Arctic ice reveals economic impact of wars, plagues

Lead trapped in Arctic ice reveals economic impact of wars, plagues

Science
July 10 (UPI) -- Today, economists use a wide variety of sophisticated tools to measure economic output. But how does one measure economic activity that happened 1,000 years ago? One way is measure changes in lead pollution levels trapped in ancient ice. Using Arctic ice cores, an international team of researchers successfully retraced the economic ups and down of the last 1,500 years. The findings, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed the the economic impacts of wars and plagues. "We all were surprised at how similarly lead pollution varied across this half of the Arctic and how closely those variations coincided with known historical events," Joe McConnell, director of DRI's Ultra-Trace Ice Core Chemistry Laboratory at the Desert ...