melting sea ice

Melting Ice Beckons Ships, Oil Drills to Arctic

Posted Thu, Oct 20, 2011 by Ariel Kagan to arctic, climate change, cod, global warming, melting sea ice, northeast passage, oil drilling, oil spills, shipping

© Oceana

The Arctic’s Northeast Passage is home to walruses, beluga whales, narwhals, and many other marine animals, most of whom have probably never seen an oil tanker or shipping vessel. Unfortunately, thanks to global climate change, that could soon change.

As the planet continues to warm, the coveted Northeast Passage has become ice-free and thus open to cargo ships, oil drillers, and fishing vessels for the first time.

There’s huge incentive for commerce and industry to use the Northeast Passage. The New York Times writes that the opening of the Passage shortens the travel time and reduces costs for shipping between Northern Europe and Asian markets. Companies like Exxon Mobil are attracted to the potential of oil and minerals in the Arctic seabed. And the elusive Arctic “Donut Hole,” a patch of international and unregulated waters in the center of the Ocean, is full of valuable fish including overfished Atlantic cod stocks. 

Offshore drilling, increased shipping traffic, and fishing vessels in the Northeast Passage threatens one of the great patches of marine wilderness in the world. Drilling in the Arctic could mean a spill in a place as remote as Northern Russia, which would make the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup look like a cinch, primarily because cleanup mechanisms such as booms don’t work properly in icy waters.

We’ve been campaigning against offshore oil drilling to protect vulnerable Arctic habitats. We'll continue working with local native communities to ensure that future generations will see a healthy and vibrant Arctic. You can help by supporting our work to fight oil drilling in the Arctic.


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Arctic Sea Ice at Second Lowest on Record

Posted Mon, Sep 19, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to arctic sea ice, climate change, global warming, melting sea ice, polar bears, sea level rise, walruses

grey seal

A grey seal. © Oceana/Carlos Minguell

The latest sea ice data are out, and they aren't pretty. Here’s the latest:

The sea ice data in particular are drawing a lot of attention because sea ice maintenance affects weather patterns around the globe, melting ice contributes to warmer oceans and rising sea levels, and unusual ice patterns can wreak havoc on the lives of native humans and animals, particularly polar bears, which can drown, and walruses, which can starve.


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Guest Post: In the Eyes of the Polar Bear

Posted Tue, Jan 4, 2011 by Emily Fisher to carbon emissions, climate change, emily goldstein, global warming, melting sea ice, polar bears, the arctic

Image courtesy Emily Goldstein.

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Emily Goldstein was a finalist in Oceana’s first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009 for her work to convince thousands of people and dozens of large companies to reduce their energy use, saving 16 million pounds of CO2.

Polar bears stand for everything that is wild and free, ruling over the Arctic as the creature we all associate with the North Pole. They are the apex predators in the Arctic, admired for their power and majesty. But the polar bear has recently become well-known for another, more deadly reason: they have become victims of climate change. Their world of ice is melting away, threatening their very existence.

In November I traveled to a remote town in northern Canada to talk with scientists about the polar bear’s perilous situation. Churchill is a village near the Hudson Bay, where ice first begins to form each year. This was my third visit there, but each time I go I feel even more privileged to be able to experience the world of the bears. The first time I looked into the eyes of a polar bear, I knew that I had to do something to save these amazing creatures from extinction. 


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Walruses Forced Ashore by Melting Sea Ice

Posted Wed, Sep 15, 2010 by Emily Fisher to alaska, arctic, climate change, extinction, global warming, melting sea ice, walruses

As DailyKos and the New York Times reported yesterday, melting sea ice has forced more than 10,000 walruses ashore in the Alaskan Arctic. Normally they rest on ice floes in the summer, periodically diving for food.

And this isn’t the first time. In fact, this is the third time in the last four years that the walruses have alarmingly turned into landlubbers.

The future isn’t looking good for this ice-loving lumberer, unless we take action to stop climate change and protect the Arctic from further catastrophic warming.


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