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Climate at the Poles - Mar 26

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Ice shrink in Arctic sea may attract oil firms

Winter sea ice around a Norwegian Arctic island has thinned to less than one meter (3 feet) since the 1960s, according to a study on Tuesday of a region that may be more attractive to oil firms because of climate change.

The Norwegian Polar Institute said ice around Hopen island southeast of the Svalbard archipelago had become more than 40 cms (16 inches) thinner in the past 40 years, in what it called the first long-term study of ice thickness in the Barents Sea.

...Oil and gas companies are pushing north into the Barents Sea, seeking new reserves. Scientists say climate change may make the region less inhospitable and prices around $100 a barrel can justify exploration despite high costs.
(25 March 2008)

Antarctic ice shelf collapses

A chunk of Antarctic ice about the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said today.

Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 414-square-kilometre chunk in western Antarctica, which started Feb. 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.

This is the result of global warming, said British Antarctic Survey scientist David Vaughan.
(25 March 2008)
Video of the break-up (DeSmogBlog).

Land deal could open Alaska wildlife refuge to oil

Yereth Rosen, Reuters
A controversial land swap proposal could open portions of an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, dividing Alaska natives and stoking opposition from environmentalists seeking to protect the bears, moose and birds that live there.

Supporters of the plan to exchange land in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, which lies just south of the more-famous Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, say they would like the plan to be approved by the administration of President George W. Bush before the election in November.
(25 March 2008)

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