On his way home, Darnell Eleby paused before boarding the commuter train in Atlanta's Five Points station and maneuvered his wheelchair to a stop not seen on many mass transit platforms: a fresh food stand stocked with colorful It looks like a trashcan bobbing in the waters off the California coast. But it's hardly garbage. In fact, it may play a key role in monitoring the health of our oceans.
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Herculean task ahead to shield New York from rising waters. Spotlight science news. Date 6 hours 12 hours 1 day 3 days all. Last day 1 week 1 month all. Quantum Physics Researchers build a quantum dot energy harvester Over the past few years, thermoelectric generators have become the focus of a growing number of studies, due to their ability to convert waste heat into electrical energy.
Sep 20, Using machine learning to reconstruct deteriorated Van Gogh drawings Researchers at TU Delft in the Netherlands have recently developed a convolutional neural network CNN -based model to reconstruct drawings that have deteriorated over time.
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Surface melting causes Antarctic glaciers to slip faster towards the ocean, new research shows Surface meltwater draining through the ice and beneath Antarctic glaciers is causing sudden and rapid accelerations in their flow towards the sea, according to new research. Earth Sciences. Today's forecast: How to predict crucial plasma pressure in future fusion facilities A key requirement for future facilities that aim to capture and control on Earth the fusion energy that drives the sun and stars is accurate predictions of the pressure of the plasma—the Plasma Physics.
Sep 20, 4. Where to park your car, according to math Just as mathematics reveals the motions of the stars and the rhythms of nature, it can also shed light on the more mundane decisions of everyday life. Computer simulations show human ancestors would have had an easier time giving birth than modern women A trio of researchers with Boston University and Dartmouth College has found that one of our ancient ancestors likely had a much easier time giving birth than modern humans.
Comet gateway discovered to inner solar system, may alter fundamental understanding of comet evolution A new study led by a University of Central Florida researcher may fundamentally alter our understanding of how comets arrive from the outskirts of the solar system and are funneled to the inner solar system coming closer Open cluster NGC investigated in detail European astronomers have performed a comprehensive study of the young open cluster NGC Introducing 'mesh,' a memory-saving plug-in that could boost phone and computer performance Applications like web browsers or smartphone apps often use a lot of memory.
Wearable brain-machine interface could control a wheelchair, vehicle or computer Combining new classes of nanomembrane electrodes with flexible electronics and a deep learning algorithm could help disabled people wirelessly control an electric wheelchair, interact with a computer or operate a small robotic No benefit in growth mindset theory, study says A motivational approach to learning used widely in schools to encourage academic success does not benefit pupils, Edinburgh research suggests. Get a firsthand look at the latest in multiphysics simulation See how modeling and design experts are using simulation for innovative research and design at COMSOL Conference Boston.
Sep 19, Medical Xpress. Medical research. Medical economics. Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes. Tech Xplore. Daily rainfall over Sumatra linked to larger atmospheric phenomenon Around the globe, communities are concerned with rain and storms. Lab develops novel approach to study sound recognition in acoustically orienting animals If you wander outside on these late summer nights, you might hear the din of calling songs from field crickets. New vaccine prevents herpes in mice, guinea pigs Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a vaccine to protect against genital herpes.
Leukemia drug shows promise for treating a childhood brain cancer A drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia appears to be more effective at stopping a type of medulloblastoma in mouse models than existing treatments for the deadly pediatric brain tumor, reports a multi-institutional The best of two worlds: Magnetism and Weyl semimetals Imagine a world in which electricity could flow through the grid without any losses or where all the data in the world could be stored in the cloud without the need for power stations.
General Physics. The brand's mission is no different today— New Scientist reports, explores and interprets the results of human endeavor set in the context of society and culture. An expert team of writers explores key developments in at least four feature-length articles in every issue. Regular sections include interviews with high-profile personalities, essays, book reviews and bestseller lists. The Frontiers section focuses on emerging technologies and insightful Editorial comment.
Called this, and teams around the world zolmitriptan, the drug activates have created replacement a class of serotonin receptors organs — bladders, for example — that seem to trigger electrical in the lab and tried implanting activity in cells — something them in people. A TYPE of brain cell that connects breathing rate to alertness has been found in mice. Killing these neurons made mice unusually calm, and these cells may explain why deep breathing makes us feel relaxed.
They —New eye in a new place— identified them using a database of gene activity in mouse brain cells, which showed that the pranayama nervous systems — an essential neurons are a distinct type of neuron step for being able to send visual in the hindbrain.
The mice, the animals took a greater team found the tadpoles could number of slow breaths and spent less learn the difference between red time exploring and sniffing Science, and blue areas, for instance, and doi. They also did more avoid coloured triangles as they moved on a screen beneath them. That the tadpoles could see The usual role of these neurons using eyes connected to their might be to ensure that when mice are spinal cords is surprising, says more physically active — such as when Bernd Fritzsch at the University they are exploring a new place — their of Iowa, and good news for teams sniffing and fast breathing trigger developing engineered organs greater alertness, says Yackle.
If the like eyes and ears. Doctors also recommend deep could put the organ on the neck, for example, and connect it to the breathing to help combat anxiety or panic attacks. Miguel Farias of spinal cord. It might look funny, Coventry University, UK, hopes but it could still work. Stealthy sawfish is more inconspicuous than it looks YOU would think it would be hard to miss, but the formidable snout of the sawfish has evolved to be undetectable to prey as it swishes through water. Evans was inspired when he watched a TV programme about the sawfish and realised its snout — called a rostrum — looked similar to the wind turbine blades he usually studies.
To find out whether the rostrum had similar properties, his team CT-scanned three sawfish species and made 3D computer models. We knew that sawfish use rostrums as weapons to bludgeon prey, sometimes impaling fish on the razor-sharp teeth. But Evans and his team found that the snouts also cut through water without creating vibrations — just like wind turbine blades through air Journal of Fish Biology, doi.
This is crucial to hunting because prey fish rely on vibrations in the water to determine whether potential predators are swimming nearby. It is especially true in areas with low visibility like the muddy coastal waters and estuaries of Western Australia, where sawfish thrive. Dark web not all that dark, it turns out IF YOU thought your anonymity was assured on the dark web, think again.
An investigation of 1. Owners of these resources can track when they are loaded, potentially letting them monitor traffic to dark web services. Nearly a third originated in the surface web. Those using Tor proxies — services on the surface web that act as gateways to the dark web, like the popular Tor2Web — are most at risk, says Sanchez-Rola. THE rapid spin of a neutron star is slowing in bursts — and it may be because of gravitational waves. Brynmor Haskell at the Polish Academy of Sciences and his colleague now suggest that gravitational waves could be behind the unusual slowing.
In the X-ray phase, they say, the star steals material from a smaller companion star that orbits it. This pushes the atoms beneath deeper into the star, where higher pressure fuses them into heavier elements. Once Android apps are downloaded, they can function by talking with each other without notifying you. Among the , most popular apps in the Google Play store, Gang Wang of Virginia Tech and colleagues found 23, pairs in cahoots. But each pair contained one of just 54 apps that instigated the collusion. Those most likely to be up to mischief included emoji and ringtone apps. The researchers presented their work at a security conference in Abu Dhabi this week.
The researchers think the octopus might even be using the jellyfish tentacles to ensnare more prey. Little is known about this octopus, which can grow to be 4 metres long and weigh 75 kilograms. Steven Haddock from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California and his colleagues have only seen it in the wild three times in as many decades before filming three of them using remotely operated vehicles.
The team also analysed the stomachs of five museum specimens, mainly finding the remains of gelatinous zooplankton and jellyfish. But most other octopuses eat more substantial prey such as fish and crustaceans, so it is a surprise to see this species grow so large on jellyfish Scientific Reports, doi. Haddock says this illustrates the complexity of the ocean food web and the overlooked role of gelatinous food. The pale-coloured loach is thought to have begun to diverge from surface fish as glaciers from the last ice age receded some 16, to 20, years ago, linking surface and cave waters.
Germany, who led the team that analysed the fish. Larger barbels, whisker-like feelers, may improve tactile sensing in the dark Current Biology, DOI: It shows fish can adapt quickly to these subterranean habitats,. The team has calculated that this precarious-sounding orbit is actually fairly stable and safe for the asteroid. It has been following this retrograde path for at least 1 million years and ought to remain on it for a million more.
Several studies have found a higher risk of ALS in electrical workers. One theory is that electrical shocks are to blame, or extremely low frequency magnetic fields. Now a study of more than 58, men and women suggests the second idea may be correct. Roel Vermeulen at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and his team found that people whose jobs exposed them to high levels of very low.
Jobs with relatively high exposures include welders, sewing-machine operators and aircraft pilots, says Vermeulen. He says the finding should be interpreted with caution as it may be a false positive. It could effectively cancel plans to restrict carbon dioxide emissions, such as those from coal-fired power plants. Years of legal battles lie ahead, but the message could not be clearer: the US is turning its back on efforts to curtail global warming. If other countries rollback. Suddenly, an intriguing stand by and let the US brazenly possibility has arisen: could the flout its commitments, the entire outrageous behaviour of the US agreement could slowly unravel unite nations to take action on as its credibility evaporates.
But what can the other nations An ever-rising price on carbon do when the agreement includes has long been the most agreed-on no enforcement measures? Although some countries have unilaterally introduced carbon pricing, they have done so only in a very limited way or with a very low price, or both — greatly reducing the effectiveness of the policy. Why so toothless? Countries fear that if companies have to pay high penalties for their carbon emissions, their industries will go bust or move production elsewhere to avoid the higher costs.
Take the European Union. In theory, it has carbon pricing in the form of its carbon trading system. Companies in carbonintensive industries — for example, electricity, steel and. Trump has just demonstrated how ineffectual the Paris approach is. The key problem, as his executive order reveals, is that the Paris agreement does not deter selfish behaviour: nations leaving it to others to tackle climate change while benefiting from their efforts. Mexico, whose relations with the US have been strained by the new administration, has also said it is considering it. EU leaders have been more circumspect.
In public, they have said they have no plans for tariffs — but conspicuously have not ruled anything out. However, to keep these companies competitive with their non-EU counterparts, the EU dishes out free permits, for instance, to the cement industry. Even when not given freely, the EU permits are so cheap they have failed to drive emissions reductions.
How to break the stalemate? Carbon tariffs, also known as border adjustment taxes, are one answer. The idea is that countries that impose carbon pricing on their own industries would also impose border taxes on goods imported from countries that do not. This would allow countries to raise carbon prices to a meaningful level without putting their own industries at a disadvantage. Better still, if enough powerful countries banded together to institute carbon tariffs, it would create a compelling incentive for other countries to join in too.
A global carbon price is the approach that many prominent researchers and economists, including Axel Ockenfels at the University of Cologne in Germany, have been calling for. They argue that it will produce much faster falls in emissions than simply setting targets, which is the current approach. For example, under the Paris agreement, each country comes up with its own target for cutting emissions — and there are no penalties for failing to meet them.
Last year, the prospect of using carbon tariffs to force countries to adopt carbon pricing faded after the apparent success of Paris. After signing the agreement, countries could not then turn around and threaten to impose carbon tariffs on others, says Glen Peters at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway.
Germany has been analysing using an economic model. His as-yet-unpublished work suggests more countries would need to join in to force the US to change course. China, by contrast, would lose much if the US claimed carbon tariffs violate trade rules and retaliated by slapping punitive tariffs on goods from China — in other words, if there was a trade war. If carbon tariffs are designed to be fair, they should be allowed under World Trade Organization rules, says Sam Lowe of environmental organisation Friends of the Earth.
But no one can say for sure. But now its situation has changed. For the first time, China For many economists, the risk may be starting to see some of trade wars is the strongest upsides to tariffs as well as argument against carbon tariffs. However, world leaders will need So could the EU and China join to weigh this risk against the together to impose them on the immense and growing costs of US? This is the surprising scenario climate change.
The other global carbon price. The idea of a carbon price can be emitted by large industries, make the decision easier. If it floods, storms and sea level rise discourages fossil fuel use, happens, imposing carbon tariffs see page We live in interesting times.
Solar radiation management SRM adds particles to the upper atmosphere to reflect a small fraction of incoming sunlight, potentially slowing, halting or reversing global warming. Researchers at Harvard University are about to launch a project in the sky above Arizona to see if it works for real. The test will be too small to alter global temperatures, but it still amounts to the biggest trial of the method. Those studying geoengineering emphasise that this technique, although potentially quick and relatively cheap, would not offer a permanent fix.
It would be a climate tourniquet to temporarily stem rising temperatures. SRM alone would do nothing to. It also risks droughts and political conflicts over control and liability. But we may eventually have to use it. Because planetwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been sluggish, all but wiping out hope of avoiding a 1. This brings a key complication to the fore: the lag between action and effect.
Avoidable illness? Studies are frequently misinterpreted as showing that cancer is either largely bad luck or almost entirely preventable. It is a follow-up to their study, which suggested that variations in cancer incidence in different tissues were linked most closely to the number of stem cell divisions, and hence random DNA replication errors, in those tissues.
Some researchers questioned the study and insisted external factors still dominate. The latest attempt to do this comes from US researchers doi. Hence the follow-up, showing that the link between stem cell divisions and cancer holds across nations with very different environmental conditions. This time, the authors used a model that could distinguish between internal and external drivers of mutation in a more complete way. This goes some way to resolving apparent conflict between biological mechanisms and population-level estimates of the role of environmental factors.
For example, the authors cite the fact that nearly 90 per cent of the most common form of lung cancer is preventable, even if they find random stem cell copying. Unsurprisingly, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Two key messages emerge. First, it is impossible to say with certainty what caused a particular tumour, so trying to translate population-wide data to individual cases is not wise.
Second, we can reduce cancer risk by modifying lifestyle, but chance does play a significant role. At the planetary level, this would mean that our best efforts may not be enough to keep temperatures at a liveable level. Imagine the fallout when we eliminate carbon emissions, but temperatures keep rising and climate disruption worsens. Thus the importance of the Harvard test. Simulations indicate that SRM could hold down temperatures, while studies of events such as volcanic eruptions also support the idea, but there is no hands-on experience with the technique outside labs.
We need to know how it could work and, more importantly, how it could fail before we face the possibility of having to use it. So who can they sell it to? The Obama ruling explicitly mentioned advertisers, but not because ISPs are restricted to selling your data to them. Everything you do is for sale. On 28 March, US Congress finalised the process of scrapping laws passed in the late days of the Obama administration, which would have required internet service providers ISPs from the end of to ask permission before selling the data they collect about their customers to third parties.
He also championed the use of film in scientific research. Branded a communist sympathiser, he had been arrested for refusing to testify to the US Congress. Acquitted, he was still stripped of his Princeton professorship. His departure began an exile that would last until his death, as a naturalised British citizen, four decades later. The theory Bohm was nurturing as he left his native shores has spent even longer in the cold. But his ideas also seemed scientifically beyond the pale.
That went against the established grain, and still does. But more than six decades on, Bohm is getting a fresh hearing, as new experiments are hinting that he might have been on to something. If so, some aspects of reality would become easier to fathom, while others would be harder to stomach. Forget standard quantum weirdness — the world Bohm revealed is a more profoundly and mysteriously interconnected place than we ever imagined. Before quantum physics, our understanding was governed by classical theories in which reality exists.
The thin end of the wedge came in , when Albert Einstein said that the photoelectric effect, in which certain metals give out electrons when illuminated, can only be explained if light is made up of quantum particles — photons, as they came to be called. The thing was, light was known to be a wave. In the early s, Thomas Young had done a version of the now classic double-slit experiment, in which light is shone at two parallel slits. The interference pattern formed on a screen beyond is what we would expect if waves of light were spreading outwards from both slits — behaviour that seems impossible if it is made of single particles.
So which is it then — particle or wave? These involve light so dim that only one photon at a time passes through the double slit. Each photon lands on the screen at some seemingly random spot. Over time, however, these positions turn out not to be random; rather, the accumulated spots form an interference pattern, as if each photon were going. Experiments soon confirmed all the quantum particles that make up material reality have this dual nature, too.
Yet this is exactly what orthodox quantum mechanics says. In this picture, often called the Copenhagen interpretation after the Danish city where it took shape, a quantum object is represented by a mathematical wave function that allows us to make probabilistic predictions of what we will find when we measure things. That remains the dominant view to this day.
De Broglie suggested another: that particles are real and have equally real waves associated with them. De Broglie presented his ideas at the Solvay Conference in Brussels, a legendary gathering of the early quantum greats. But he had not developed the theory mathematically, and it received a lukewarm reception. He quietly dropped the idea, becoming an adherent of the Copenhagen interpretation.
In the alternative picture, though, if particles are entangled, a common pilot wave guides them, and any change in the position or momentum of one particle instantly changes the pilot wave, thus influencing all the other particles. But by the time the idea was published in , he was already in exile. He developed a two-wave theory in which every particle rides a pilot wave, which in turn interacts with another wave that behaves like a wave function.
And there it has largely stayed, bar the odd finding that, if anything, hindered its revival. Allow the photons to reach the screen and an interference pattern develops over time: light is a wave, and it passes through both slits. Now introduce an entangled "probe" photon that tells us which slit its partner photon passed through. Measure at the slits again, and the states of the two photons must agree. Measurements at the slits detect single photons passing through one slit or the other: light is made of particles.
The many guises of quantum theory Why does reality only seem to coalesce into a definite state when you make a measurement? The answer depends on your preferred view of the quantum world Copenhagen interpretation. Quantum uncertainty is not intrinsic to reality — it has to do with your own lack of knowledge about whatever you are attempting to measure.
Make a measurement and the universe splits, taking you into the parallel world where you got the result you did. When you measure something, you extract some physical form of information from it, forcing it into a high-definition state. Spread-out quantum states are collapsing into definite states all the time. Your clodhopping measurement just helps things on their way.
Reality is guided by pilot waves; measurement just discovers what reality is up to, in the same way as classical physics see main story. It was a series of unlikely experiments involving oil droplets that started to change some minds. They discovered that if they let a millimetre-sized droplet of silicone oil fall on to a bath of the same oil that was vibrating up and down, the droplet would bounce indefinitely on the surface.
And not just that: when it bounced the first time, it created a wave that it encountered on the next bounce,. Take measurements at the screen, however, and half the time they disagree: the state of the probe suggests the travelling photon went through one slit, but its position on the screen implies it passed through the other — a seemingly surreal trajectory. The bouncing droplet started wandering across the oil bath, guided by the very wave that it had created and helped sustain with each bounce.
The interesting thing was what happened when this wave-particle system encountered a barrier, a fraction of a millimetre below the surface, with two gaps in it: a double slit. The walking droplet went over one or the other slit, while its pilot wave went over both, and the wave pattern that emerged on the other side guided the droplet on.
The researchers collected 75 such trajectories, and their analysis suggested the formation of an interference pattern on the far side of the slits. Despite there only ever being one particle-like droplet in the apparatus at any time, its pilot wave was causing it to acquire seemingly wave-like behaviour. It was clearly only an analogy, and attempts by other teams to repeat the work suggest that the supposed interference pattern might have been the product of air currents, as well as inadequate statistics.
More recently, John Bush and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have performed a. They found, once again, that the bouncing droplet creates a pilot wave that guides it on — and they discovered a second wave pattern. Last year, a refined version of the double-slit experiment conducted by Aephraim Steinberg of the University of Toronto, Canada, and his colleagues suggested that might not be quite such a problem after all. Brace yourself, because this is where things get really weird. First, the researchers created pairs of photons with entangled polarisations.
One photon of each pair was sent through the double slit, which was designed so that if the photon was vertically polarised it would go through slit A, and if horizontally polarised through slit B. They did this with tens of thousands of photon pairs, and found that, on average, at the moment a photon passed through slit A, the probe photon would be vertically polarised, as expected. But at the screen, things were a lot more ambiguous. These were seemingly surreal trajectories, unmasked Science Advances, vol 2, p e In a word, non-locality.
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The experiment shows that the moving photon is constantly changing the polarisation of the probe photon. Look at the probe photon at the moment the moving photon goes through a slit, and there is no contradiction. But look at it the moment the moving photon hits the screen and, half of the time, its polarisation state has changed. So Bohmian mechanics can and should remain a contender, says Albert. But winning hearts and minds will still be a struggle. Also, the theory is mathematically fleshed out only for particles travelling far slower than the speed of light.
Quantum mechanics, in contrast, has been extended to embrace relativistic particles travelling close to the speed of light, and so forms the basis of quantum field theory and the standard model of particle physics. The hardest part is to accommodate the instantaneous interactions of Bohmian mechanics. Goldstein and his colleagues have tried to get around this, 32 NewScientist 8 April Ditch the monkey, and consider quantum fluctuations in an everlasting universe.
They could at some point spontaneously form anything, even a brain. That sounds nonsensical. But in Bohmian mechanics see main story such a universe evolves towards a static state. Not misplaced. Each year, the ice sheet reaches its maximum extent in March, then begins to shrink as temperature warm up. But this year, something is different. The floating sea ice, which at its peak normally extends as far as the eye can see and feels as solid underfoot as a continental shelf, is rotten.
For the third year in a row, its maximum March extent is at a record low,. February temperatures were above freezing. These are the symptoms of a new Arctic that is being created — perhaps the most profound change to the look of our planet for millions of years, with consequences for the rest of the planet. In all likelihood the Arctic Ocean will soon be ice-free in the summer, surrounded by snow-free lands.
Follow us as we take you through a year on thin ice. The thickness of the ice is also shrinking. Heatwaves late in mean the volume of the Arctic ice sheet is now much lower than any other winter on record The Arctic sea ice grows and shrinks with the passage of the seasons. But the total area covered by ice is getting smaller year after year, because of global warming. Twice — in late November and December — the ice cap actually shrank.
The consequences of the warm winter are likely to be long-lasting. Thin, broken-up ice is far less likely to survive the summer melt and form sustainable multi-year ice.
Three decades ago, 45 per cent of ice during the winter maximum was multi-year ice. One possibility is that the loss of ice brought about by global warming is being amplified by natural variabilities — decadal weather cycles that have nothing to do with climate change and fossil fuels. What is clear are the extreme conditions on the ground. The ice cap reached its maximum extent on 7 March this year. At Winter has come. Historically, the ice could grow to be 5 metres thick in places where it survived the summer and thickened with each passing winter.
But that is changing. The repercussions were remarkable. For a sense of scale, the team compared this with the warming effect of carbon dioxide over the same period. They found that the loss of sea ice has delivered a warming boost to the entire planet equivalent to 25 per cent of the effect of rising CO2 levels.
This is the main reason why the Arctic has on average been warming more than twice as fast as the planet as a whole over the past half-century. This is also having a large effect, warns Peter Wadhams, an ocean physicist at the University of Cambridge. The calculations are rough, but the message seems clear: the Arctic is amplifying global warming on a large scale.
The average thickness of the ice sheet has dropped considerably. This a concern because thicker ice can survive the regular summer melt, but thinner ice cannot. The rays warm the air and start to melt the snow. Gaps between the sheets of floating ice get wider and the surface of the ocean warms up. Beneath the ice, a unique food chain is set in motion: as light begins to filter through, photosynthetic algae start to grow in tiny crevices in the ice, feeding tiny crustaceans that in turn feed small fish. At the surface, polar bears emerge from hibernation to seek out seals, while whales move about in the widening cracks between the ice.
The return of light also highlights an important way in which the new Arctic is affecting regions further south: we are losing a vital mirror that helped keep the planet cool. White snow and ice typically reflect 85 per cent of solar radiation back out into space, whereas dark ocean only reflects 10 per cent. To calculate how much extra solar heat is being absorbed in the Arctic as the white surfaces turn dark, Ian Eisenman and colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, turned to satellite radiation data.
They found that an extra 6. September was tied with for the second-lowest summer ice extent on record. The oldest, thickest ice, which used to stretch over much of the Arctic Ocean, is now mostly packed up against Canada and Greenland Historical sea ice extent for September median for The carve-up is likely to be done by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental club of all eight Arctic nations. Summer rctic summers are greener and more lively these days.
Average June snow cover has declined by 58 per cent since , exposing more tundra for longer. Howard Epstein of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has measured a 20 per cent increase in plants on the tundra since Woody shrubs are spreading at the expense of more distinctive local species such as the lichen that are an important food source for reindeer. Coastlines are also being transformed. Waves are pounding shorelines that ice once protected. According to Irina Overeem at the University of Colorado, erosion rates along the coast of the Beaufort Sea have more than doubled in half a century to an average of 14 metres a year.
In some ways, the greening of the tundra is good news. It is extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps to counteract global warming. But many predict this helpful feedback could soon be overwhelmed by the release of CO2 and methane from melting permafrost on land and ocean sediments. The frozen Arctic traps an estimated billion tonnes of organic carbon, twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, we are only just discovering the richness of life in the Arctic. Recent years have seen mass congregations of walruses on the Alaskan and Siberian coasts of the Chukchi Sea, taking a breather on land because the sea ice from which they normally hunt had disappeared. The new behaviour has resulted in overcrowding, stampedes that are deadly to young calves, and food shortages.
Melt the snow, warm the water, remove the ice that once kept the waters dark, and we can expect a biological cornucopia. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year the Barents Sea north of Scandinavia had 19 per cent more biomass than the average for to On top of this, Atlantic species are moving north, lured by more food and warmer waters. Others have shown that both Atlantic and Pacific cod have also moved in. The concern is that an influx of newcomers could crowd out and even kill off the natives.
Arriviste orcas, for instance, are hunting native narwhals in the archipelagos of northern Canada. A survey recorded pieces of litter per square kilometre off the Fram Strait east of Greenland. This could be delayed by a decade or so if we were to reduce emissions. That would be irreversible, and could unleash runaway global warming that would continue whatever we did to emissions. Eisenman calculates that this is unlikely before all the summer ice is gone, but perfectly possible thereafter.
Many saw the melting Arctic as a largely passive victim of that climate change. No longer.
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Feedbacks from an ice sheet that has vanished faster than anticipated mean a new Arctic is alive and kicking. The slower jet stream has begun to meander more. Instead of pushing weather systems along, it traps them in one place, creating longer summer droughts and winter cold spells. The frequency of such stalled weather systems in summer has doubled since , says Dim Coumou of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. He blames this for the heatwave and forest fires in. Studies show that the shrinking ice cap is effectively helping to warm the rest of the planet see Spring, page It may also be changing your local weather.
Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University in New Jersey has pointed out that rapid warming in the north is reducing the difference between Arctic and mid-latitude air temperatures. That difference drives the northern jet stream, which moves weather systems around the hemisphere. Francis suggests it could also explain persistent cold spells in east Asia. Some researchers say weird weather can never be attributed to a single cause in this way. Francis agrees it may be a long time before we can be sure she is right. But if the new Arctic causes the jet stream to slow permanently, Europeans and North Americans could be in for a bumpy ride of climate extremes.
This is the point in the year when the shrinking stalls for a few days before winter starts up again and the cycle repeats.