Our grandchildren will know no Arctic.
Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record
Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.
Last week, at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in the Arctic, sea ice covered 4.76 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles), the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.
“This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below five million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), and all those occurrences have been within the past four years,” the report said.
A separate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in August, too, Arctic sea ice coverage was down sharply, covering an average of six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles), or 22 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000.
The August coverage was the second lowest for Arctic sea ice since records began in 1979. Only 2007 saw a smaller area of the northern sea covered in ice in August, NOAA said.
The record low for Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in September, was also in 2007, when ice covered just 4.13 million square kilometers (1.595 million square miles).
- What does the 2010 Arctic Sea ice minimum extent signify? (greenanswers.com)
- Arctic sea ice reaches lowest 2010 extent, third lowest in satellite record (eurekalert.org)
British energy giant BP forced to abandon hopes of Greenland exploration owing to tarnished reputation from Gulf oil spill
BP frozen out of Arctic oil drilling race
BP confirmed it was no longer trying to win an exploration licence in Greenland (above). Photograph: John McConnico/AP
The company confirmed tonight that it was no longer trying to win an exploration licence in Greenland, despite earlier reports of its interest. “We are not participating in the bid round,” said a spokesman at BP’s London headquarters who declined to discuss its reasons for the reverse.
The setback, which follows the announcement this week of a major find in the region by British rival Cairn Energy, is the first sign that the Gulf of Mexico disaster may have permanently damaged BP’s ability to operate — not just in US waters, but in other environmentally-sensitive parts of the world.
Today the bureau of minerals and petroleum in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, confirmed that the names of successful bidders for future exploration licences would be announced in the next couple of weeks.
The bureau refused to comment on widespread industry rumours that it had not considered BP specifically as a result of the recent Macondo well disaster in the US.
But senior sources confirmed to the Guardian that both the Greenland government and BP had agreed it would be inappropriate for the company to be involved.
“With the Greenpeace ship already harassing Cairn off Greenland — a company which has an exemplary safety record – everyone realised it would be political madness to give the green light to BP,” one source said.
ont of breaking into new frontiers such as Russia and Angola, as well as
There has long been speculation since the Deepwater Horizon accident in April that BP could find itself persona non grata, particularly in sensitive environmental regions such as the Arctic.
BP has traditionally been at the forefront of breaking into new frontiers such as Russia and Angola, as well as drilling the deepest wells in the Gulf of Mexico, but the blowout and enormous environmental damage in the southern states has completely changed its external image and its own ambitions.
BP’s current interests around the Arctic region are centred on Alaska, but there has been extensive speculation that the company is in talks with rivals such as Apache to sell these off in a desperate bid to raise cash to pay for expected oil-spill liabilities of over $30bn.
Cairn’s announcement that it had struck gas this week reinforced the views of the US Geological Survey which said last year that it believed there could be 90bn barrels of oil and 50tn cubic metres of gas in the wider Arctic region.
Environmentalists are particularly nervous about plans to open up Arctic seas for exploration because the cold conditions would make a spill far more damaging. Last month, a report by US government scientists concluded that a quarter of the 4.9m barrels of oil estimated to have been spilled in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico had evaporated or dissolved. Oil spilled in the Arctic would be far harder to disperse and break down.
There will be another round of bidding for drilling off Greenland next year and the year after, but BP’s reverse this week shows that it will be difficult for the firm to secure future exploration licences in the area.
Despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster, major oil companies – BP included — still hope to begin drilling in the Arctic off the coast of North America soon. The US president, Barack Obama, opened up US waters there to exploration shortly before the Deepwater Horizon explosion but suspended the plans while investigations into the disaster took place. Last month, BP, Exxon Mobil and Imperial Oil formed a joint venture to explore for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea in Canada’s Arctic.
The oil industry is already lobbying against new safety regulations requiring them to drill a relief well at the same time as they drill an exploration well in order to speedily plug any leak.