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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
A small thermokarst lake on the southern slopes of Pårte in the Arctic is seen. Permafrost is thawing so fast, in can turn a forest into a lake in the course of one month. distantranges / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Current estimates of carbon emissions from melting Arctic permafrost rely on a model of a gradual melt. New research has found abrupt thawing of permafrost which means carbon emissions estimates should be doubled. The rate at which permafrost is thawing in the Arctic is gouging holes in the landscape, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
People's Climate Solidarity March crossing the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 15, 2017. Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

By Carter Dillard

In 2019 a study linked climate change and hotter weather to early childbirth in the United States. "That's enough to take somebody from what's considered to be a pretty healthy pregnancy into a 'we are somewhat worried' pregnancy," said Alan Barreca, a UCLA professor of environment and human health and lead author of the study.

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Patrick Fraser / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.

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A polar bear greeting photographed from a small boat in the Beaufort Sea on the northeast coast of Alaska on Sept. 22, 2015. Arthur T. LaBar / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

Climate action advocates and wildlife defenders celebrated Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the Trump administration's approval of Liberty, a proposed offshore oil-drilling project in federal Arctic waters that opponents warned would endanger local communities, animals, and the environment.

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For the first time on record, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing by late October. Euronews / YouTube

By Sharon Guynup

At this time of year, in Russia's far north Laptev Sea, the sun hovers near the horizon during the day, generating little warmth, as the region heads towards months of polar night. By late September or early October, the sea's shallow waters should be a vast, frozen expanse.

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Workers harvest asparagus in a field by the Niederaussem lignite coal power plant in Cologne, Germany. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning are reaching new highs. Henning Kaiser / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the dire threat of climate change Wednesday in a speech on the state of the planet delivered at Columbia University in New York.

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A 21,000 tonne (approximately 23,000 U.S. ton) oil spill that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare an emergency last week has now reached a pristine Arctic lake, and there are concerns it could contaminate the Arctic Ocean.

Environmentalists and local officials have raised alarms about the disaster, which they say is the worst of its kind in the Russian Arctic, according to BBC News. So far, the oil has spread 12 miles from the initial spill site, a fuel tank that collapsed May 29.

"The fuel has got into Pyasino as well. This is a beautiful lake about 70 kilometres (45 miles) long. Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere," Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss told Interfax news agency Tuesday, as AFP reported.

Lake Pyasino flows into the Pyasina river, which in turn flows into the Arctic Ocean's Kara Sea, BBC News explained.

Greenpeace Russia director Vladimir Chuprov told AFP it would be a "disaster" if 10,000 tonnes (approximately 11,000 U.S. tons) of fuel or more had reached the lake. He said he feared it would reach the Kara Sea as well, which would have "harmful consequences."

Uss, however, was committed to preventing that from happening.

"Now it's important to prevent it from getting into the Pyasina river, which flows north. That should be possible," he said, as BBC News reported.

The news that the spill had reached the lake came a week after a spokeswoman for the team in charge of cleanup efforts told AFP the spill had been contained.

But regional officials told a different story.

"We can see a large concentration of diluted oil products beyond the booms," Krasnoyarsk region deputy environment minister Yulia Gumenyuk said, according to BBC News.

Norilsk Nickel, the company that ultimately owns the power plant where the tank collapsed, denied that any oil had reached the lake.

"Our samples at the Pyasino Lake show 0.0 percent contamination results," Sergei Dyachenko, the company's first vice-president and chief operating officer, said in a Tuesday video conference reported by AFP.

He also said it was unlikely the fuel would reach the ocean.

"The distance from Pyasino Lake to the Kara Sea is more than 5,000 kilometres (approximately 3,107 miles)," he said.

The spill has also contaminated rivers and soil. So far, cleanup efforts have removed 812,000 cubic feet of contaminated dirt, according to BBC News.

"[The spill] will have a negative effect on the water resources, on the animals that drink that water, on the plants growing on the banks," Vasily Yablokov of Greenpeace Russia said, according to BBC News.

The polluted Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers may take ten years to clean, The Guardian reported.

Norilsk Nickel has said the collapse that caused the spill was probably due to melting permafrost, but environmental groups have accused the company of using the climate crisis to downplay its own culpability.

"It's an attempt to write off Nornickel's failure in risk management and ecological safety on the fashionable topic of climate change," Alexey Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund told The Guardian. "The main factor is mismanagement."

Greenpeace said it had reported on the threat posed by thawing permafrost to oil and gas infrastructure in the fast-warning Russian Arctic as far back as 2009. But Dyachenko said in a conference call Tuesday that the company had not been monitoring the permafrost before the accident.

"It's not possible that the company did not know about [thawing permafrost], but it is possible that the company used a dangerous facility irresponsibly," Greenpeace Russia's Yablokov told The Guardian.

A helicopter view of a diesel fuel spill in Siberia on June 2, 2020. Andrei Marmyshev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into a river in the Arctic Circle.

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Researchers say they have observed methane being released along a wide swath of the slope of the Laptev Sea. Aerohod / CC BY-SA 4.0

Arctic Ocean sediments are full of frozen gases known as hydrates, and scientists have long been concerned about what will happen when and if the climate crisis induces them to thaw. That is because one of them is methane, a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey has listed Arctic hydrate destabilization as one of the four most serious triggers for even more rapid climate change.

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United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters on February 4, 2020 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

"The state of the planet is broken. Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal."

That's how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres began a Wednesday address at Columbia University, in which he reflected on the past 11 months of extreme weather and challenged world leaders to use the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to construct a better world free from destructive greenhouse gas emissions.

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Methane gas bubbles are seen trapped in the ice of a frozen thermokarst lake, which has an active methane seep. Kevin Hand, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

An international team of scientists says a new way of extracting methane gas trapped in permafrost has the potential to harvest more gas while burning fewer fossil fuels in the extraction process, as Newsweek reported.

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Water trickles down a hillside among moss next to the entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault during a summer heat wave as mountains behind stand devoid of snow on Svalbard archipelago on July 29 in Longyearbyen, Norway. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

By Johnny Wood

What better place to build a Doomsday Vault than the remote, snow-covered islands of Norway's Arctic Svalbard? Sitting around 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole, the facility is buried in permafrost to protect the precious seed samples housed there. But a freak heatwave is causing the region's ice to melt.

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A reindeer herd congregates in mid-winter in the Norwegian Arctic, January 27th, 2016. Scott Wallace / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Herds of horses, bison and reindeer could play a significant part in saving the world from an acceleration in global heating. That is the conclusion of a recent study showing how grazing herbivores can slow down the pace of thawing permafrost in the Arctic.

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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
A small thermokarst lake on the southern slopes of Pårte in the Arctic is seen. Permafrost is thawing so fast, in can turn a forest into a lake in the course of one month. distantranges / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Current estimates of carbon emissions from melting Arctic permafrost rely on a model of a gradual melt. New research has found abrupt thawing of permafrost which means carbon emissions estimates should be doubled. The rate at which permafrost is thawing in the Arctic is gouging holes in the landscape, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
People's Climate Solidarity March crossing the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 15, 2017. Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

By Carter Dillard

In 2019 a study linked climate change and hotter weather to early childbirth in the United States. "That's enough to take somebody from what's considered to be a pretty healthy pregnancy into a 'we are somewhat worried' pregnancy," said Alan Barreca, a UCLA professor of environment and human health and lead author of the study.

Read More Show Less
Patrick Fraser / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.

Read More Show Less
A polar bear greeting photographed from a small boat in the Beaufort Sea on the northeast coast of Alaska on Sept. 22, 2015. Arthur T. LaBar / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

Climate action advocates and wildlife defenders celebrated Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the Trump administration's approval of Liberty, a proposed offshore oil-drilling project in federal Arctic waters that opponents warned would endanger local communities, animals, and the environment.

Read More Show Less
Trending
For the first time on record, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing by late October. Euronews / YouTube

By Sharon Guynup

At this time of year, in Russia's far north Laptev Sea, the sun hovers near the horizon during the day, generating little warmth, as the region heads towards months of polar night. By late September or early October, the sea's shallow waters should be a vast, frozen expanse.

Read More Show Less
Workers harvest asparagus in a field by the Niederaussem lignite coal power plant in Cologne, Germany. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning are reaching new highs. Henning Kaiser / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the dire threat of climate change Wednesday in a speech on the state of the planet delivered at Columbia University in New York.

Read More Show Less

A 21,000 tonne (approximately 23,000 U.S. ton) oil spill that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare an emergency last week has now reached a pristine Arctic lake, and there are concerns it could contaminate the Arctic Ocean.

Environmentalists and local officials have raised alarms about the disaster, which they say is the worst of its kind in the Russian Arctic, according to BBC News. So far, the oil has spread 12 miles from the initial spill site, a fuel tank that collapsed May 29.

"The fuel has got into Pyasino as well. This is a beautiful lake about 70 kilometres (45 miles) long. Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere," Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss told Interfax news agency Tuesday, as AFP reported.

Lake Pyasino flows into the Pyasina river, which in turn flows into the Arctic Ocean's Kara Sea, BBC News explained.

Greenpeace Russia director Vladimir Chuprov told AFP it would be a "disaster" if 10,000 tonnes (approximately 11,000 U.S. tons) of fuel or more had reached the lake. He said he feared it would reach the Kara Sea as well, which would have "harmful consequences."

Uss, however, was committed to preventing that from happening.

"Now it's important to prevent it from getting into the Pyasina river, which flows north. That should be possible," he said, as BBC News reported.

The news that the spill had reached the lake came a week after a spokeswoman for the team in charge of cleanup efforts told AFP the spill had been contained.

But regional officials told a different story.

"We can see a large concentration of diluted oil products beyond the booms," Krasnoyarsk region deputy environment minister Yulia Gumenyuk said, according to BBC News.

Norilsk Nickel, the company that ultimately owns the power plant where the tank collapsed, denied that any oil had reached the lake.

"Our samples at the Pyasino Lake show 0.0 percent contamination results," Sergei Dyachenko, the company's first vice-president and chief operating officer, said in a Tuesday video conference reported by AFP.

He also said it was unlikely the fuel would reach the ocean.

"The distance from Pyasino Lake to the Kara Sea is more than 5,000 kilometres (approximately 3,107 miles)," he said.

The spill has also contaminated rivers and soil. So far, cleanup efforts have removed 812,000 cubic feet of contaminated dirt, according to BBC News.

"[The spill] will have a negative effect on the water resources, on the animals that drink that water, on the plants growing on the banks," Vasily Yablokov of Greenpeace Russia said, according to BBC News.

The polluted Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers may take ten years to clean, The Guardian reported.

Norilsk Nickel has said the collapse that caused the spill was probably due to melting permafrost, but environmental groups have accused the company of using the climate crisis to downplay its own culpability.

"It's an attempt to write off Nornickel's failure in risk management and ecological safety on the fashionable topic of climate change," Alexey Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund told The Guardian. "The main factor is mismanagement."

Greenpeace said it had reported on the threat posed by thawing permafrost to oil and gas infrastructure in the fast-warning Russian Arctic as far back as 2009. But Dyachenko said in a conference call Tuesday that the company had not been monitoring the permafrost before the accident.

"It's not possible that the company did not know about [thawing permafrost], but it is possible that the company used a dangerous facility irresponsibly," Greenpeace Russia's Yablokov told The Guardian.

A helicopter view of a diesel fuel spill in Siberia on June 2, 2020. Andrei Marmyshev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into a river in the Arctic Circle.