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NASA scientists flew over the Kuskokwim river in southwest Alaska in 2017 to investigate how water levels in the Arctic landscape change as permafrost thaws. Peter Griffith, NASA

By Tim Radford

Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.

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Methane bubbles trapped in ice in a Canadian lake. John Bakator on Unsplash

By Tim Radford

As the global temperature steadily rises, it ensures that levels of one of the most potent greenhouse gases are increasing in a way new to science: the planet will have to reckon with more methane than expected.

Researchers who monitored one bog for three years in the Alaskan permafrost have identified yet another instance of what engineers call positive feedback. They found that global warming meant earlier springs and with that, earlier spring rains.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

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By Verner Wilson II

2018 was a breakthrough year for Arctic conservation work at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). I wrote partly about it in my previous blog. Aside from obtaining internationally recognized routing measures and shipping areas to be avoided (ATBA) in the Bering Sea, IMO also moved forward with regulations to ban the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic.

The United Nations shipping agency also moved to regulate climate-change causing greenhouse gas emissions in the international shipping industry, which is one of the largest emitters of carbon and other atmosphere pollutants. I look forward to continuing that type of work into 2019. And there will be plenty of opportunity for that, as there are a number of IMO subcommittee meetings that will consider pollution reduction and prevention measures. The people who I believe made some of the most significant differences in this work in 2018 were able to come to IMO with me last fall.

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Steve Hillebrand / USFWS

By Tim Lydon

The Trump administration is barreling ahead with plans to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the country and an area of global ecological importance.

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Caribou in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. U.S. Bureau of Land Management

By Kelsie Rudolph

At the 11th hour on Jan. 22, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) quietly extended the initial public comment period in an environmental review process aimed at creating a new management plan (the Integrated Activity Plan or IAP) for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve). Already, BLM has rescheduled public meetings with little notice, plus the government shutdown is still going strong and the agency has only extended the public process for one week. BLM's current rush job, meant to cater to ConocoPhillips and the oil industry, is unforgivable, especially when compared to the extensive work that went into—and broad stakeholder support that was garnered for—the current management plan.

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Mother and cub in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge near Kaktovik, on the north slope of Alaska. cheryl strahl / Flickr

By Rebecca Bowe

Send an army of industry workers into remote polar bear territory in the dead of winter, and things are not going to end well.

Yet that's just what the Trump administration would open the door to as it prepares for oil and gas drilling and moves to authorize seismic testing, a precursor to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

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Rising temperatures and more frequent wildfires in Alaskan national parks could affect caribou's habitat and winter food sources. Zak Richter / NPS

By Stephen Nash

The Trump administration's decision to keep many U.S. national parks open during the current federal government shutdown, with few or no staff, spotlights how popular and how vulnerable these unique places are.

Some states, such as Utah and Arizona, have spent heavily to keep parks open rather than lose tourist revenues. Unfortunately, without rangers to enforce rules, some visitors have strewn garbage and vandalized scenic areas.

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Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at a meeting regarding the Colorado River on Sept. 27, 2017. Bureau of Reclamation

By Emilie Karrick Surrusco

As 2019 begins, it's out with the old and in with the same old, same old. Scandal-ridden Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a brief farewell letter Wednesday in red marker. With Zinke's successor not yet named, David Bernhardt becomes acting secretary. The move swaps out one political insider closely aligned with deep-pocketed special interests for another.

Bernhardt, who became deputy secretary of the Department of Interior in August 2017, is "a walking conflict of interest" who served as the Interior Department's top lawyer under George W. Bush—and went on to a lucrative career as a legal adviser for timber companies, mining companies and oil and gas interests. Since returning to the Interior Department under Trump, he has quietly implemented policy decisions that benefit his former corporate polluter clients.

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Northeast National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Bob Wick / BLM

Despite the Trump administration's unrelenting quest to drill the Arctic, Wednesday's oil and gas lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) yielded a "disappointing" return of $1.5 million, E&E News reported.

Oil and gas giants ConocoPhillips, Emerald House and Nordaq Energy were the three companies that made uncontested bids on 16 tracts of land out of 254 tracts made available by the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) annual sale in the western Arctic.

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The Stikine River runs through Wrangell, Alaska. Mining operations nearby threaten to poison fish in the Stikine watershed and destroy the traditions and livelihoods of Southeast Alaskan Tribes. Alaska Department of Fish and Game

By Ramin Pejan

Mining operations in Canada are threatening to destroy the way of life of Southeast Alaskan Tribes who were never consulted about the mines by the governments of Canada or British Columbia.

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Red dots represent earthquakes near Anchorage in the last 24 hours as of Dec. 3. Yellow dots represent quakes in the last two weeks. The size of the dots represent the magnitude. Alaska Earthquake Center

Roughly 1,400 aftershocks have followed after Friday's monster 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Anchorage, Alaska, Anchorage Daily News reported.

The aftershocks all surrounded the original temblor that was centered about 7 miles north of Alaska's largest city.

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