Arctic snow cover shows sharp decline

Earlier spring could spell trouble for permafrost

Arctic snow is fading fast. June snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has dropped by almost 18% per decade during the past 30 years, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters1.

The drop in snow extent will lower the amount of sunlight reflected away from the planet — a process that has a cooling effect — by exposing darker … Read the rest

Cold cash for cold science

The recent funding wrap-up from the international polar year (IPY) has left many Canadian researchers scratching their heads, trying to find a way to continue their arctic science projects. A new grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada may help close that research-funding gap.

In its announcement yesterday, NSERC opened a competition to fund large-scale research with a focus—for this round of funding—on northern earth systems. … Read the rest

Permafrost that lives up to its name

Ancient Canadian ice survived previous warm periods.

A 740,000-year-old wedge of ice discovered in central Yukon Territory, Canada, is the oldest known ice in North America. It suggests that permafrost has survived climates warmer than today’s, according to a new study.

“Previously, it was thought that the permafrost had completely disappeared from the interior about 120,000 years ago,” says Duane Froese, an earth scientist at the University of Alberta in … Read the rest

Rapid Ice Retreat Threatens Arctic Interior

Nature Reports: Climate Change

The rapid decline of sea ice could accelerate inland warming over the Arctic region, radically transforming the landscape.

One of the Northern Hemisphere’s natural cycles is the expansion and contraction of the floating Arctic ice cap. Typically, sea ice decreases during the Arctic summer, reaching a low in September, before recovering as temperatures drop in winter. From as far back as satellite measurements began in 1978 … Read the rest