New research on jellyfish indicates that the movements of ocean creatures, from the smallest flutter of fins to a bowhead whale's mighty tail-flap, can affect the temperature of the ocean at large. In fact, the movements of sea creatures can account for a third of all "ocean mixing" -- the mixing of seawater layers that moves heat, salt, nutrients, and carbon dioxide throughout the planet's oceans.
[T]he study authors believe that even small swimmers stir the ocean in a big way, via a mechanism that Sir Charles Darwin, grandson of the legendary scientist, described half a century ago.
As an animal moves through the sea, it pulls some of the surrounding water along for the ride, explained Kakani Katija, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology.
via Sea Animals Change Climate Via Flutters and Flaps?.
If this undersea mixing is as widespread as some researchers believe, it's effects could change climate forecasts drastically, meaning that the models scientist have been using would need to be revised.
Declining sea ice is having a negative effect on the diets of Polar Bears, causing them to consume foodstuffs higher in pollutants.
Hudson Bay's polar bears are more contaminated with some pollutants now than in the past due to warmer temperatures that are melting ice sooner in the spring and forcing the bears to eat different food. Read the rest of this entry »
The Canadian government has decided to approve Nunavut's proposal to declare Inuktitut, English and French its official languages, reports The Globe and Mail.
The territory's Official Languages Act was passed by Nunavut's politicians last June, but it needed final approval from the federal government before it could become law. Read the rest of this entry »
The July 2009 Newsletter was just released. The direct link to the newsletter can be found here.
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This summer, David de Rothschild will be setting sail from San Francisco in a boat made from recycled plastics. Dubbed the Plastiki, an homage to Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, the ship will be bound for the Pacific Garbage Patch, a flotilla of garbage caught in marine currents in the Central North Pacific Ocean.
The purpose of de Rothschild's journey is to call attention both to the Garbage Patch and to plastic itself -- not merely as a form of human waste but as a valuable resource that can and should be used again and again.
Though de Rothschild's journey will take place far south of Arctic Kingdom's usual stomping grounds, the health of the Arctic waters we dive in is inextricably connected to the seas of the world below. By simultaneously cutting back on our own consumption and becoming more aware of the potential uses and re-uses of the 'waste' products in our lives, we can all help protect and preserve the world's oceans, from pole to pole.
Video via The California Academy of Sciences
No, it wasn't aliens this time, either. And it wasn't the Blob of sci-fi movie fame, released from it's icy tomb to terrorize an unsuspecting public once again (sorry, Hollywood).
But enough of my speculating. Scientists have determined once and for all the identity of Alaska's mysterious blob. Let's check in:
Test results released Thursday showed the blob wasn't oil, but a plant - a massive bloom of algae. While that may seem less dangerous, a lot of people are still uneasy. It's something the mostly Inupiat Eskimo residents along Alaska's northern coast say they could never remember seeing before. Read the rest of this entry »
Mutiny ruins everyone's day. Image via mariner.org
A new book is looking into the final days of Henry Hudson, the famed explorer believed to have been set adrift by his crew during a search for the Northwest Passage.
It has been 400 years since English explorer Henry Hudson mapped the northeast coast of North America, leaving a wake of rivers and towns named in his honor, yet what happened to the famed explorer remains a mystery.
Hudson was never heard from again after a mutiny by his crew during a later voyage through northern Canada. That he died in the area in 1611 is a certainty, and he may have even been killed in cold blood, according to new research.
The anger among Hudson's crew over his decision to continue exploring after the harsh winter could have easily fueled a murderous mutiny, suggests Peter Mancall, a professor of history at the University of Southern California.
"The full story of Hudson's saga reveals one of the darker chapters of the European age of discovery," said Mancall, who explores the 1610 voyage in his new book "Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson" (Basic Books; 2009).
There's something mysterious floating off the coast of Barrow. It's described as "gooey," and appears dark against the arctic ice.
Nobody knows for sure what the gunk is, but Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer says the Coast Guard is sure what it is not.
"It's certainly biological," Hasenauer said. "It's definitely not an oil product of any kind. It has no characteristics of an oil, or a hazardous substance, for that matter.
"It's definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it's some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism." Read the rest of this entry »
New Scientist Video: Researcher Alun Hubbard discusses the break up of the ice
The biggest glacier in the Arctic is on the verge of losing a chunk of ice the size of Manhattan. A group of scientists and climate change activists who are closely monitoring the Petermann glacier's ice tongue believe the rapid flow of ice is in part due to warm ocean currents moving up along the coast of Greenland, fuelled by global warming.
The Arctic is a land of contradictions, remote from it's southern neighbors and ever-present within the world ecosystem, both ancient and at the very forefront of climate change and the global response to those changes. And just as they have throughout history, the Arctic's inhabitants are rising to the new challenges global climate change presents.
Writing for the Arctic Kingdom blog, I often feel overwhelmed by the constant flow of dire news that comes out of the Arctic. Declining animal populations, the loss of sea ice, and the many seemingly unstoppable forces already at play in the global climate can sometimes seem like insurmountable problems.
But there is still hope to be found in the global effort to preserve and protect the Arctic and its inhabitants. Here at Arctic Kingdom, we're proud to be involved with Arctic Hope, a "cooperative project intended to help the arctic region adapt to a shifting world. The main goals are to strengthen the viability, resiliency and sustainability of the region through mutual education and collaboration with indigenous communities." Visit the website for more details on how you can get involved!