Friday, February 19, 2010

'What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic'

Bruce Henderson in the Charlotte Observer (US): A worried Norwegian ambassador to the United States visited Charlotte on Wednesday to raise awareness of global warming. While warming in the Southeast was negligible for much of the past century, Norway is among a handful of Arctic nations witnessing rapid changes at the top of the globe.

The 2009 mean temperature in Spitsbergen, in the country’s north, was 5.2 degrees above the 1961-1990 average, the government says, warning that traditional sports like skiing may disappear in some areas. And because most Norwegians live on the long coastline, they’re wary of rising seas. “I can jump out of my kitchen window into the ocean,” said Ambassador Wegger Christian Strommen. “That’s why we’re scared.”

Charlotte was Strommen’s third stop in an informal road show to speak to local audiences in partnership with advocacy groups Clean Air-Cool Planet and, in Charlotte, Clean Air Carolina. Mecklenburg County commissioners’ Chairman Jennifer Roberts and Mayor Anthony Foxx greeted his appearance.

Arctic sea ice has declined by 11 percent per decade over the past three decades, said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. Meier was one of two scientists appearing with Strommen.

Sea ice is disappearing faster than climate models predicted, he said. It’s also thinning to about half its historic depth, releasing more of the ocean’s heat into the atmosphere. That, in turn, influences global ocean currents and wind patterns that can alter climate in distant places like Charlotte.

“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” Meier said….

A beautiful shot of Alnes, Godøy (seen from Aksla mountain, Ålesund), Giske municipality, Møre og Romsdal county, Norway, by Frode Inge Helland, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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