James McGraw

West Virginia University, Eberly Family Professor, Department of Biology

Martin Sharp

University of Alberta, Professor and Chair, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department

June 15, 2012

Changing Arctic Ocean - surprising discovery under ice

Kevin Arrigo

A research team led by Kevin Arrigo (2009) has discovered a massive algal bloom under the Arctic pack ice, which scientists previously thought would be impossible due to lack of light. The study shows that the light reaching the upper water through the ice has been increasing because of thinning ice cover and the rapid growth of melt ponds in the Arctic Ocean. These conditions have enabled the algal blooms to form. The team hopes that this finding helps predict the impacts of ongoing and future changes in the Arctic Ocean environment.


June 8, 2012

Methane release: another call for attention from the Arctic

Jeffrey Chanton

photo: A methane-induced melt-hole in
Alaska (credit: Katey Walter Anthony)

A research team including Jeff Chanton (2005) has documented evidence of widespread release of "ancient" geologic methane, a different type from "younger" methane released when frozen organic material decomposes. The team found that this "ancient" methane comes from coal beds or natural gas deposits deep underground, which scientists previously thought would be permanently trapped under frozen soils and glaciers. Given the vast amount of this trapped ancient methane, the escape of even a small fraction of it could have a significant climate warming impact as a powerful greenhouse gas, the team says.


December 12, 2011

Attention to Arctic warming: Keep soils frozen to store carbon

Ted Schuur

Photograph courtesy of Ted Schuur

As global temperatures rise, frozen soils are thawing in the Arctic. A new study led by Ted Schuur (2011) estimates that carbon and methane stored in the frozen soils will be released to the atmosphere more quickly than models suggest, which will accelerate climate change. The study stresses the urgent need to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions. “If you think about fossil fuel and deforestation, those are things people are doing, so presumably if you had enough will, you could change your laws and adjust your society to slow some of that down,” Schuur says.

October 28, 2010

Insights on declining Arctic sea ice

Martin Sharp

photo: Harley D. Nygren, NOAA

Sea ice cover in the Arctic dropped this year to the third-lowest level on record, according to the Arctic Report Card prepared by a team of 69 researchers in eight countries, including Martin Sharp (2008). The researchers found that the three lowest ice covers occurred in the last four years. They also noted that sea ice loss leads to changes in wind patterns that cause stronger winter storms, like last winter's Northeast snowstorms.

March 19, 2009

Implications of Arctic melt explored

Thomas Litwin

Tom co-produced a television series on research in the Arctic, "On Thin Ice" for PBS's NOVA program. For the two-year project, he traveled to the Bering Sea to explore the ecological and human cultural context of the ice world and to document the melting of Arctic glaciers due to climate change.

March 18, 2009

Potential for rapid shifts in climate explored

Edward Brook

Ed was a lead author in December 2008 of a major report to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program explaining the dynamics and potential for rapid and unanticipated climate change. He and a coauthor also published an article in Science on October 3, 2008 analyzing ice cores from Antarctica and the connection between warmer temperatures, rising carbon dioxide concentrations, and changing ocean currents. It is anticipated that their findings will improve understanding of future climate trends.