Here’s some news out of the Arctic from the past week. I’ll be posting more in-depth analysis tomorrow.
UN Secretary General visits Norwegian Arctic
Ban Ki-Moon has just wrapped up a three day tour of the Norwegian Arctic prior to the global warming conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. This visit compliments Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s tour of Antarctica in 2007. Upon visiting Svalbard, he said,
“This is the place where climate change is happening faster than any (other) area. … This is alarming. We must stop this from further happening.”
Whether he will be able to seriously tackle climate change is debatable, at least according to the Norwegian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mona Juul. In a confidential memo to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre that was leaked to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Juul wrote, “Mr. Ban Ki Moon is a spineless and charmless leader.”
While in Norway, the Secretary-General also visited the climate change research station in Svalbard. He remarked that he was worried about the rapid rate of ice melt in the Arctic, which brings us to our next story…
BBC: “UN chief’s plea on Arctic climate mission” (with video)
Washington Post: “U.N. Chief’s ‘Quiet’ Outreach to Autocrats Causing Discord”
Arctic sea ice melting faster than expected
Nothing too surprising here. A Greenpeace article mentions a number of factors behind the newly discouraging statistics on melting ice coming out of the Arctic. One such factor is the disappearing glaciers in Greenland, whose warm subtropical meltwater flows out onto the outlying glaciers, consequently melting them. Another feedback effect mentioned is the replacement of old sea ice with young ice, which is more vulnerable to melting. All of this has resulted in Arctic sea ice thickness declining 53% since 1980.
The cryosphere program manager at NASA, Tom Wagner, commented:
“A fantastic change is happening on Earth. It’s truly one of the biggest changes in environmental conditions on Earth since the end of the ice age.”
Greenpeace: “Arctic Meltdown”
The Science Blog: “Satellites and submarines give the skinny on sea ice thickness”
Rosneft’s outlook brightens
By cutting costs, the Russian oil company Rosneft has managed to improve its bottom line. It reduced its net debt by $2.11 billion in the first half of the year to $18.96 billion, while increasing revenues 35% compared to the previous quarter. However, this was still a 51% drop when compared with the same quarter in 2008. The decline in profit was mostly tied to the drop in demand for and the price of gasoline.
The future is also looking promising for Rosneft. The price of a barrel of oil has stabilized at around $70, up from a low of $40. Plus, the new Vankor oil field in the Eastern Siberian Arctic came online on August 21, and as a result, national oil production is predicted to increase 3%. The Vankor oil field is a key part of Russia’s strategy to keep the oil wells pumping.
Telegraph: “Rosneft hopes for boost from Arctic oil”