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Polar Science News from March 2006


No refreshing of Arctic ice in the winter
According to a team of scientists, for the second year in a row a large amount of Arctic sea ice did not refreeze during the winter as it normally does. This trend may indicate an overall shrinking of Arctic ice cover due to rapid global climate change. Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center based at the University of Colorado, monitors Arctic sea ice. Some calculations say that by 2070 we will have no sea ice left, he says. (March 21, 2006)
Read more National Geographic

Alaska oil spill threat to Arctic wildlife
A recent spill of about 1 million liters of oil in the tundra of Alaska's North Slope is raising a new round of questions from environmental groups about proposed plans to open more land in the region to oil drilling. The oil spill happened in the Prudhoe Bay oil field in late February, but it was not discovered for five days. The spill is the largest in the region's history. The North Slope region of Alaska borders the Arctic Ocean and contains most of the state's petroleum reserves. It is also home to thousands of migratory birds, caribou, and other creatures. (March 21, 2006)
Read more National Geographic

DPC to be restructured
The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has launched a working group with the objective of investigating the possibilities of a fusion – wholly or partly - between Danish Polar Center and the Danish Research Agency. The purpose of the fusion would be to create a greater cohesion between the Danish Polar Center’s tasks and the research counseling system. Furthermore, it is the objective to improve opportunities for Danish polar research.
Comments and suggestions to the working group are welcome
.
Impact crater found in Antarctica
Evidence for what may be a large and relatively recent impact crater has been found off the coast of Antarctica. Scientists say the crater might have been caused by a space rock having crashed into the Ross Sea about three million years ago. The crash could have generated a huge tsunami, says a member of the team investigating the collision. (March 21, 2006)
Read more BBC
PilLogistical platform available at Station Nord
The Danish Natural Science Research Council (FNU) invites scientists to express their interest in using the Council's logistical platform in the area surrounding Station Nord, the Danish military airbase in the north-eastern section of the Greenland National Park, during the summer season of 2006. FNU is financing and operating a logistical platform which will ensure the presence of a helicopter and a STOL airplane in the region during the summer season of 2006 (July to mid-August). As part of the initiative, FNU has allocated logistical funding to 10 Danish arctic research projects. Further, the Council has hired the Danish Polar Centre (DPC) to co-ordinate the logistical activities. (March 14, 2006)
Read more DPC
Disappearing belugas puzzle scientists
While about 1.300 beluga whales used to live in Cook Inlet in the 1970s, last year's number of animals was estimated to be just 278. The dwindling number has caused the National Marine Fisheries Service to consider whether the species need a protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. (March 1, 2006)
CNN
Greenland establishes polar bear quota
Greenland's government has introduced the first hunting quota for polar bears - a species scientists believe is threatened by the effects of global warming. According to Greenland's fishing and hunting directory, the figure for 2006 was set at 150 animals. Only Greenlanders with valid hunting permits can obtain permission to shoot a bear. (March 1, 2006)
CTV
Computer model recreates climate change process
NASA and Columbia University scientists have developed new computer models showing how an abrupt climate change took place 8.200 years ago. At that time - the beginning of the current warm period - climate changes were caused by a massive flood of freshwater into the North Atlantic Ocean. Their work is the first to recreate the event and to be confirmed by comparison to the climate change record. (March 1, 2006)
Science Daily