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Arctic sea ice at record low October levels: Danish researchers – Al Jazeera English



For the month of October, measurements show an 8.2 percent downward trend in ice over the last 10 years.

Sea ice in the Arctic was at record lows for October as unusually warm waters slowed the recovery of the ice, Danish researchers said on Wednesday.

Diminishing sea ice comes as a reminder about how the Arctic is hit particularly hard by global warming.

Since the 1990s, warming has been twice as fast in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world, as a phenomenon dubbed “Arctic amplification” causes air, ice and water to interact in a reinforcing manner.

“The October Arctic sea ice extent is going to be the lowest on record and the sea ice growth rate is slower than normal,” said Rasmus Tonboe, a scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), noting the record was unequalled for at least 40 years.

According to preliminary satellite data used by the institute, sea ice surface area was at 6.5 million square kilometres (2.5 million square miles) on October 27.

Every year, some of the ice formed in the Arctic waters melts in the summer.

It usually reaches a low point of about five million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles), but then reforms to cover about 15 million square kilometres (5.7 million square miles) in winter.

Warmer temperatures are now reducing both the summer and winter extent of the ice.

Satellite data has been collected to monitor the ice precisely since 1979 and the trend towards a reduction is clear.

For the month of October, measurements show an 8.2 percent downward trend in ice over the last 10 years.

Warmer than normal

Already in September, researchers noted the second-lowest extent of sea ice recorded in the Arctic, though not quite hitting the low levels recorded in 2012.

But warmer-than-normal seawater slowed the formation of new ice in October.

Water temperatures in the eastern part of the Arctic, north of Siberia, was 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 4C (39.2F) warmer than normal, and in Baffin Bay, it was 1-2C warmer, DMI said in a statement.

The institute said this was following a trend observed in recent years, which was described as a “vicious spiral”.

“It’s a trend we’ve been seeing the past years with a longer open-water season making the sun warm the sea for a longer time, resulting in shorter winters so the ice doesn’t grow as thick as it used to,” Tonboe said.

Since the melting ice is already in the ocean it does not directly contribute to the rise in sea levels.

But as the ice disappears sunlight “gets absorbed in the ocean, helping to further warm the Earth”, said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist at NASA.

Direct heating

Thus, with less ice reflecting sunlight, oceans are heated directly.

Over the last 40 years, the Arctic has also become more of a strategic interest to world powers.

Less ice in certain areas has opened up new maritime routes, which are destined to play a larger role in international trade, meaning a larger financial stake for Arctic state actors.

The region is also estimated to house 13 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas deposits.

Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said on Tuesday under current levels of atmospheric CO2 – about 400 parts per million – the melting of Arctic sea ice would raise global temperatures by 0.2C (32.3F).

That is on top of the 1.5C (34.7F) of warming our current emissions levels have rendered all but inevitable, and the safer cap on global warming aimed for in the Paris climate accord.

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This is how you can really help reduce greenhouse gas emissions – CTV News



When many Canadians think of how they can help lower greenhouse gas emissions, they often look for ways to reduce their own carbon footprint by flying less frequently or driving an electric vehicle, for example.

However, as laudable as those actions may be, climate activists say there are more effective ways for people to become involved and make a difference.

Alex Speers-Roesch, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, explained that the phrase “carbon footprint,” which is the measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions directly or indirectly caused by an individual, organization, event, or product, was actually popularized by the multinational oil and gas company BP in the early 2000s in an attempt to put the burden of change on to the individual.  

“It’s good for people to think about the emissions associated with the things that they consume, but there’s a tendency sometimes in the way that carbon footprints are talked about and promoted that tries to put the onus on individuals and consumers for those emissions in a way that can be unfair,” he told during a telephone interview in late November.

Lauren Latour, a climate ambition co-ordinator for Climate Action Network Canada, cited a study from a few years ago that showed that just 100 companies were responsible for 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

She also referenced another recent study that claimed frequent-flying “super emitters,” consisting of just 1 per cent of the population, were responsible for half of the world’s aviation carbon emissions in 2018.

“The average Canadian is very much not responsible for the lion’s share of harmful climate change effects,” Latour said during an interview with in late November.

So while both Latour and Speers-Roesch said Canadians should be mindful of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the goods and services they consume and how their individual choices affect the environment, they said there are other, more impactful, ways for them to address the climate emergency.

“It’s not going to be the individual actions of consumers that are going to address the climate crisis, what we really need is collective action from all of us working together to produce systemic change,” Speers-Roesch said.


Canadians interested in doing their part to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions can start by seeking out more information about the topic from environmental organizations dedicated to the cause, Speers-Roesch suggested.

He said there are many climate change groups operating in Canada, such as Greenpeace Canada, 350 Canada, Environmental Defence, and Climate Action Network Canada.

“Find a group like that, sign up for the email list, see if you can get involved,” he said. “Once you start looking, though, you start to see, ‘Oh there are opportunities everywhere.’”

Speers-Roesch said Canadians can also seek out climate change events happening in their area. For example, if there is a protest nearby, he suggested going to see what it’s about and to meet other attendees.

“As you connect with others and get more involved and get more engaged, you’ll probably have more ideas,” he said. “Before you know it, you’ll have lots of stuff to keep you busy on climate change.”


Latour acknowledged that getting involved in politics can be a “scary” thing for a lot of people, but that it doesn’t have to be and there are many opportunities to become engaged by joining community-led initiatives.

She said Canadians can join local organizations that work to influence government policy on the municipal level.

“For instance, a city is able to switch its bus fleet over from fuel combustion buses to low emissions, or hybrid or electric buses, or an electric light rail system,” she said.

Latour said Canadians can also volunteer for a mutual aid effort that is dedicated to building resiliency in their town or region. For example, she cited the groups that stepped up to help mitigate the effects of flooding in the Ottawa area over the past few years.

“In a lot of places, we see municipalities and we see smaller communities really leading the way on climate change and on climate policy,” she said.

“Individual change does matter and that individual change is getting involved in community organizing and getting involved in influencing your politics and local legislation.”

Speers-Roesch, too, said political activism is one of the most important things Canadians can do to become involved in the fight against climate change.

“The majority of the emissions are due to industry and are a result of government policy decisions so that’s really the most important and impactful place that people can focus their energies,” he said.

The Greenpeace campaigner said that Canadians should learn about their local politicians’ environmental platforms and encourage them to act.

“Call your MP, call your MPP, or city councillor,” he said. “Let them know you want them to do more on climate change.”


Finally, Speers-Roesch said Canadians can still do their part by incorporating climate change issues and pushing the conversation forward in their daily lives.

“Think about how you can bring climate activism into your existing life,” he said. “It doesn’t always necessarily have to be finding another group and joining them.”

As an example, Speers-Roesch said someone who is already part of a book club that meets on a weekly basis could suggest a book for them to read on climate change.

He said they could also organize an event within an organization they’re already involved in, such as their workplace, school, sports team, church, or temple, to raise more awareness.

“Look for a little thing that you can do each week to sort of make your voice heard and get activated and engaged on climate change,” Speers-Roesch advised. “Climate change is something that we really need to sort of infuse into every aspect of our lives and our work and everything that we do.” 

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Victoria home-composting system makes Time's top 100 inventions – Times Colonist



Victor Nicolov got an early Christmas present last week, when Time magazine named the Sepura home-composting system one of its 100 inventions of the year.

Nicolov, chief executive of ­Victoria-based Anvy Technologies, had his eye on the bigger prize of sending out the first shipment of his Sepura system early in the new year, but said being named to the list was exciting.

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“This means there will be more people finding out there is another solution for getting rid of waste at home,” he said.

The Sepura system, which Nicolov started developing in 2018, is a smart device that attaches to a kitchen sink and acts as a filter between the drain and the drain pipe.

The system extracts all the liquid from food waste, allowing it to pass down the pipe while compost-ready organic solids are collected and held in a sealed 10-litre container that can be removed to tip onto a compost pile or into a compost collection bin.

Nicolov said the system will capture 95 per cent of the solid waste flushed down the drain, and could render obsolete the need for countertop compost bins that can smell and breed fruit flies.

Time’s list, which annually highlights inventions making the world better and smarter, noted the Sepura system may help solve the problem of the estimated 40 million tonnes of food waste Americans generate annually, preventing it from ending up in landfills or being flushed down the drain.

The $580 US system is currently available for $380 US online if pre-ordered before the company starts shipping.

Nicolov said the company has been pushing sales over the past year, marketing the product to builders and developers in particular. “The difficulty there is we’re a new product and building developers don’t like risk — they like products that have been around,” he said.

Nicolov said builders have told him, however, that they have been looking for a product to replace the outdated garburator in new homes.

A series of prototypes have been installed in homes around Victoria, and Nicolov is ­optimistic that it’s just a matter of time before Sepura becomes a must-have for new homes.

The unit can also be installed in older homes as an upgrade. Nicolov said it can be attached to any kitchen sink and does not require a custom build.

The company, which has five employees spread around B.C., is starting to ramp up large-scale manufacturing of the latest model of Sepura at a plant in Ohio.

Nicolov expects they will start shipping before the end of the first fiscal quarter in 2021.

“It’s been a ton of work but it’s super exciting,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get people’s reactions.”

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NASA's Hubble Spots Galaxy Being Stripped Of Dark Matter – Forbes



Dark matter theory has long been sacrosanct in mainstream astronomical circles. Rarely do astronomers contradict the tenet that some 85 percent of all matter in the cosmos is dominated by unseen matter that only weakly interacts with gravity.   

Thus, it came as a surprise that doubt was cast on its existence by recent Hubble Space Telescope observations of two massive galaxies that appeared to be altogether devoid of this exotic matter. 

But in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, an international team of scientists detail observations on NGC 1052-DF4, the second galaxy purported to harbor little or no such dark matter. They argue that NGC 1052-DF4, a massive galaxy some 45 million light years away in the southern constellation of Cetus, is being almost completely stripped of this strange matter via gravitational interactions with its nearby galactic neighbor, NGC 1035.

In fact, NASA asserts that the forces driving NGC 1035 to interfere with NGC 1052-DF4 are tearing the latter apart. 

Deep optical imaging of NGC 1052-DF4 has revealed that this galaxy is undergoing tidal disruption, write the authors, caused by its interaction with its neighbor, NGC 1035. Dark matter is less concentrated than stars, and therefore during interactions is preferentially stripped from satellites galaxies, they report.

How does such stripping actually work?

Like the friction of chalk on a blackboard, Mireia Montes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales in Australia and the paper’s lead author, told me. As you write with the chalk, the chalk’s particles are deposited in the direction of your script, she says. 

By rote, as the galaxy continues its interaction with its massive galactic neighbor, the stripped chalk particles would get deposited in the direction of the orbit of the galaxy, says Montes. In this case, what we can see that NGC 1052-DF4’s stars are actually beginning to be stripped from their host galaxy, she says.

Such research provides case studies in how and why large galaxies actually form. Dark matter helps to form galaxies as it provides sort of the gravitational well where ordinary matter can sit and cool down and form stars, says Montes. 

It also acts as a protective shield.  Without this dark matter shield, says Montes, the galaxy would be very unstable and prone to gravitational influence from external forces. Thus, she says, such galaxies wouldn’t survive in an environment where there are more massive galaxies would swallow up these dark matter-stripped galaxies.  

We also know from simulations that the dark matter content has to decrease by some 90 percent for the interaction to start affecting the stars, she says. 

These new more accurate observations also provided new distance measurements to the galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2. In 2018, a team of Yale University astronomers reported that NGC 1052–DF2 was also devoid of dark matter. But these new observations solve that mystery.

We argue instead that a closer distance to the galaxy than the one measured in 2018 solves the dark matter peculiarities of the NGC 1052-DF2 galaxy, says Montes. But a closer distance does not help in the case of NGC 1052-DF4; it’s still missing dark matter, she says.

And for physics as we know it to work, theorists still need dark matter. 

Without the presence of dark matter, primordial gas would lack enough gravitational pull to start collapsing and forming new galaxies, says Montes. And once a galaxy is stripped of its dark matter, Montes says that this exotic matter ends up becoming part of galaxy responsible for the stripping. In this case, that would be the cigar-like, spiral galaxy NGC 1035.

“In time, NGC 1052-DF4 will be cannibalized by the large system around NGC 1035, with at least some of their stars floating free in deep space,” team member Ignacio Trujillo of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain, said in a statement.

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