Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 02:16:42 +0200 (METDST)

PARIS, May 25, 2012 (AFP) - A strong 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the Greenland Sea late Thursday, with no immediate reports of damage or tsunami alert, the US Geological Survey said. The quake hit at 2247 GMT on Thursday at a depth of 11 kilometres (6.8 miles), the USGS said, 1079 kilometres (670 miles) northwest of Murmansk, in Russia extreme northwest.
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 19:02:15 +0100 (MET)

PARIS, Feb 14, 2010 (AFP) - Greenland's continent-sized icesheet is being significantly eroded by winds and currents that drive warmer water into fjords, where it carves out the base of coastal glaciers, according to studies released Sunday.   The icy mass sitting atop Greenland holds enough water to boost global sea levels by seven metres (23 feet), potentially drowning low-lying coastal cities and deltas around the world.   At present, the ocean watermark is rising at around three millimetres (0.12 inches) per year, a figure that compares with 1.8mm (0.07 inches) annually in the early 1960s.

But Greenland's contribution has more than doubled in the past decade, and scientists suspect climate change is largely to blame, although exactly how this is occurring is fiercely debated.   Some theories point to air temperatures, which are rising faster in far northern latitudes than the global average.   A rival idea is that shifting currents and subtropical ocean waters moving north are eroding the foundation of coastal glaciers, accelerating their slide into the sea, especially those inside Greenland's many fjords.   Until now, however, these studies have been mainly based on mathematical models rather than observation.

A team of scientists led by Fiammetta Straneo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts set out to help fill that data void.   Working off of a ship in July and September 2008, the researchers took detailed measurements of the water properties in the Sermilik Fjord connecting Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland with the ocean.   They found deep water streaming into the fjord was 3.0-4.0 degrees Celsius (37.4-39.2 degrees Fahrenheit), warm enough to cut into the base of the glaciers and hasten their plunge into the sea.

Moored instruments left in the fjord for eight months showed that winds aligned with the coastline played a crucial role in the influx of these warmer waters.   "Our findings support increased submarine melting as a trigger for the glacier acceleration, but indicated a combination of atmospheric and oceanic changes as the likely driver," the researchers say.   In a separate field study, Eric Rignot of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and colleagues tried to calculate the relative share of the causes of glacier loss.

Investigating the western side of Greenland, they took ocean measurements in August 2008 in three fjords at the base of four glaciers breaking off into the sea, a process known as calving.   Ocean melting, they found, accounted for between 20 and 75 percent of ice loss from the glacier face, with calving from the part of the iceberg exposed to air accounting for the rest.

Meanwhile, a study also published in the journal Nature Geoscience warned that oceans could become more acidic faster than at any time over the last 65 million years.   Andy Ridgwell and Daniella Schmidt of the University of Bristol, western England compared past and future changes in ocean acidity using computer simulations.   They found that the surface of the ocean is set to acidify even faster than it did during a well-documented episode of greenhouse warming 55.5 million years ago.

Accelerating acidification has already begun to take a toll on numerous marine animals that play a vital role in ocean food chain and help draw off huge quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere.   The calcium carapace of microscopic animals called foraminifera living in the Southern Ocean, for example, have fallen in weight by a third.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 18:45:09 +0100 (MET)

WASHINGTON, Nov 13, 2009 (AFP) - Greenland's ice sheet has melted faster than previously thought, according to the results of a two-year study published by the US journal Science.  Scientists reported that warmer than usual summers accelerated ice loss to 273 cubic kilometers (65 cubic miles) of a year between 2006 and 2008, amounting to a 0.75 millimeter (0.02 inch) rise in global sea levels per year.   "It is clear from these results that mass loss from Greenland has been accelerating since the late 1990s and the underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future," said researcher Jonathan Bamber, one of the authors of the study, released Thursday.

The study analyzed satellite data using a new computer model.   "We have produced agreement between two totally independent estimates, giving us a lot of confidence in the numbers and our inferences about the processes," Bamber said.   Greenland's ice cap contains enough water to cause, if it became fluid, a global sea level rise of seven meters (23 feet).   According to the study, since 2000 the ice sheet has lost around 1500 cubic kilometers (360 cubic miles) of water, which amounts to an average global sea level rise of five millimeters (0.19 inches).

Researchers said that increased snowfall on the ice sheet has masked a melting increase since 1996, and the refreezing of meltwater also has moderated the effects of ice sheet loss.    Without these two moderating effects the study said the overall loss would have been double that observed since 1996.   In a landmark report in 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted oceans would rise by 18-59 centimeters (7.2 and 23.6 inches) by 2100.   The increase would depend on warming, estimated at between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius (1.98-11.52 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, which in turn depends on how much man-made greenhouse gases are poured into the atmosphere.
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 22:45:01 +0100 (MET)

COPENHAGEN, Nov 11, 2009 (AFP) - Greenland reported its first case of swine flu on Wednesday as the death toll from the virus rose across Europe.   New A(H1N1) fatalities were recorded in Croatia and Ukraine, while a mass vaccination programme was due to get under way in France.

A pre-school age girl in Greenland was diagnosed with swine flu by chance during a routine health check, the island's chief doctor told a radio station.
The health authorities have given no details of how or where the girl came to be infected, but the doctor said he was sure there were more cases of the virus on the Arctic island.   Croatia's health minister said a 62-year-old man had died in Zagreb after contracting A(H1N1), bringing the country's swine flu death toll to three.

More than 2,500 cases have been reported since the virus first appeared in the country in July, according to official figures cited by state-run news agency HINA.   Neighbouring Serbia, where seven have now died from swine flu, declared a national epidemic.

Portugal's prime minister and health minister had flu jabs publicly on Wednesday in an attempt to allay fears about the safety of the vaccine.   On Sunday the country's director of public health admitted some doctors and nurses had raised questions about the vaccine, but Prime Minister Jose Socrates said vaccination was the best way to contain the virus.
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 06:34:45 +0200 (METDST)
by Slim Allagui

NUUK, July 9, 2009 (AFP) - From his trawler that motors along the Nuuk fjord, fisherman Johannes Heilmann has watched helplessly in recent years as climate change takes its toll on Greenland.   Global warming is occurring twice as fast in the Arctic s in the rest of the world.   Heilmann, in his 60s with a craggy, rugged face from years of work in the outdoors, says he and his colleagues can no longer take their dogsleds out to the edge of the ice floes to fish because the ice isn't thick enough to carry the weight.

And yet the freezing waters with large chunks of ice are too difficult to navigate in their small fishing boats, making fishing near impossible.   "We can't use the sleds any more, the ice isn't thick enough," laments Heilmann, saying he now has to rely on bird hunting, and sometimes seal hunting, while waiting for the summer months to go fishing.   At Ilulissat, more than 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, Emil Osterman tells local daily Sermitsiaq how "in 1968, when I was 13, we went fishing in December in the fjord and the ice was several metres thick."   Now, more than 40 years on, the ice at the very same location at the same time of year "is only 30 centimetres thick."

The head of Nuuk's fishing and hunting association, Leif Fontaine, explains how climate warming is also affecting the region's shrimp industry -- Greenland's main export and biggest industrial sector.   "When the water gets warmer, the shrimp become rarer as they move further north," he says.   "And the melting ice is worrying, especially for the residents of isolated villages in the north and the east who only have sleds and no boats to hunt, fish and survive," he adds.   That has forced some hunters to let their sleddogs starve to death, since they can't provide them with the seals and fish they need to eat.   Polar bears that roam the ice also have an increasingly difficult time finding food, especially seals, as the ice floes melt. As a result they end up approaching villages in search of nourishment, presenting a danger to the locals and themselves.
  
-- 'It's very visible in the Arctic' --
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In Nuuk, residents like Nana Pedersen and Sofus Moeller, two recent high school graduates, are worried about the changes to the climate.   They recall a snowstorm that took place on June 20 -- rare even for Greenland.   Moeller says he is "worried" about the changes, but admits that he doesn't think about it every day.   "I don't know if it's warmer than before, since winter after all lasts until May here," he says.   But at the new Arctic research centre in Nuuk, director Soeren Rysgaard has no doubts that climate change is having an impact.   "It's very visible in the Arctic."   Fishermen who pull up fewer fish in their nets or who can no longer fish in certain areas because the ice is too thin are those most affected right now, he says.   But the speaker of the local parliament, Josef Motzfeldt, notes that global warming has also brought "some good."

A growing number of tourists have come to Greenland to see how climate change is causing the North Atlantic island's enormous glaciers to melt, and new species never before found in Greenland are turning up, such as sea urchins and squid.   In southern Greenland, the longer summers are benefiting vegetable farmers, who are experiencing some of their most lucrative times.   "Trees are growing and the fields are full of potatoes, lettuce, carrots and cabbage" to be sold at the local market, explains Anders Iversen, who heads a plant nursery near Qaqotorq in the south.

Temperatures are warmer now, with the mercury sometimes rising above 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) in summer, he says.   "If global warming continues, we will be able to grow even more kinds of vegetables during a longer season," he adds.   The farmers' hopes could soon be confirmed by new worrying observations in Greenland's far north.   The Arctic Sunrise, a ship belonging to environmental group Greenpeace, has recently arrived at the Petermann glacier, one of the region's biggest glaciers that is in the process of breaking up, where experts will study its developments.   For Greenpeace, the shrinking of the glacier is a clear sign that global warming is no longer "a theory, but a harsh reality."
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