Thursday, October 28

Northern Europe no longer freezes in winter




Stockholm is surrounded by more than two hundred thousand islands, many of them inhabited and which make up the largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea. The public transport of the archipelago with the rest of the city is carried out by boat, whose schedule was determined in winter by the passage of an icebreaker that opened the communication routes in the ice. For some years Stockholm archipelago no longer freezes and snow no longer covers the city. It is common for newspaper readers to send private photos to the newsrooms comparing the state of their terraces, patios or gardens, previously covered by masses of white, dry, gray and dark snow, now.

From Teriberka, known as the town of the end of the world, on the coast of the Barents Sea, in Russian territory, «We no longer send reports on ice thickness because for at least ten years that sea ​​water temperature exceeds zero degrees Celsius for most of the winter»Svetlana Ivanova reports for the DN newspaper in Stockholm. From the meteorological station that, with 130 years of history, is one of the oldest in the world, Ivanova explains that, “before we could have temperatures of minus 1.3 degrees in the water. Now it is normal to have up to 3.5 positive degrees. “I still remember seeing people walk on the ice of the bay back to their homes at noon for lunch. That is no longer possible to do now », Svetlana concludes with a certain melancholy.

In 2017, the Government of Finland commissioned an international investigation into climate change in the Barents Sea. According to their results, the temperature of the Barents Sea and the northern Arctic Ocean increases at twice the speed of the rest of the world’s seas. The Barents Sea floor is an average of 230 meters deep while the average depth of the rest of the seas is 3,729 meters. This fact facilitates the increase in temperature in Barents.

The Russian paradox

Russia is one of the countries most exposed to the climate emergency. For two consecutive years, the years 2019 and 2020, Siberia has been devastated by severe forest fires that have claimed a forest area greater than the geographical extent of Greece and Belgium combined. In addition, at the end of May this year 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was spilled into a river in Norilsk. The thawing of permafrost or permafrost caused the deposits containing the oil to burst.

However, the Kremlin’s reaction remains contradictory. On the one hand, Russia has not only signed but also ratified the Paris treaty, while its president, Vladimir Putin, affirms that climate change can lead to important strategic advantages as is the opening of the passage of the Arctic Ocean through the northeast of Russia.

Permafrost thaw

What does not seem to be an advantage for anyone, much less for Russia, is that the ice sheet that covers the most superficial levels of the ground in many cold regions and close to glaciers, which is known as permafrost or permafrost, melts faster than expected. We refer to a total area similar to that of all the deserts on the globe and that occupies, in the case of Russia, 60% of its territory. Infrastructures, roads and houses, or fuel tanks are built on this frozen land, and all living beings in nature are adapted to this eternal frost known as permafrost or permafrost.

Permafrost or permafrost may have several hundred meters thick and is composed of water, earth, ice and stones as well as ancient remains of animals and plants. According to scientific calculations, there are about 1.5 billion tons of carbon stored in the northern permafrost zone. It is currently melting faster in the Siberian area, releasing a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that will influence global warming.

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