Featured

1.5°C is way too high: thoughts from a flood-stricken German valley

We are fine and glad to live up a hill, but in shock, with the region around us devastated by the heaviest and longest lasting rain I have ever experienced and unprecedented floods. At least 160 people are dead here, more in neighbouring Belgium, and many more missing. This is in Germany, one of the …

Continue reading 1.5°C is way too high: thoughts from a flood-stricken German valley

Featured

Tipping points: can a leaked report tip the scales to climate action?

I was working through my Twitter feed, fretting about the incredible temperatures in the high north and researching my next blog post. Could geoengineering be the way to cool the Arctic and the planet? Should it? And was the current hype about it not distracting too much attention from the need for immediate and drastic …

Continue reading Tipping points: can a leaked report tip the scales to climate action?

Featured

Hot times ahead as oil-fuelled Russia chairs the Arctic Council and polar warming picks up pace

The bi-annual Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Reykjavik, Iceland, on May 20th attracted a lot of media interest – not least because the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was attending, alongside Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This is one arena where the two rivals and Cold War adversaries come together as …

Continue reading Hot times ahead as oil-fuelled Russia chairs the Arctic Council and polar warming picks up pace

Featured

German High Court win for climate activists is good news for the Arctic

In Germany, where I live, the country's highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, - unnoticed by much of the international media – recently issued a game-changing verdict in a case initiated by campaigners supported by groups including Fridays for Future and Greenpeace. The plaintiffs argued the government was failing to act on climate change. The …

Continue reading German High Court win for climate activists is good news for the Arctic

Featured

Can we make peace with nature in a rapidly changing Arctic?

The United Nations Environment Programme is calling for bold action to “make peace with nature” by cutting greenhouse gases and restoring biodiversity as the world emerges from the COVID pandemic. “Innovation and investment only in activities that protect both people and nature”, is the motto. What does this mean for the rapidly changing Arctic and the Indigenous peoples living there?

Featured

2021: Future doesn’t just happen – It’s what we make it

As I started work on this post, on December 23rd, the thermometer here in north-western Germany showed 14° Celsius. I’ve long given up dreaming of a White Christmas in this part of the world, but roses and honeysuckle in bloom in mid-winter? 2020 marked the close of the warmest decade (2011-2020) on record, according to …

Continue reading 2021: Future doesn’t just happen – It’s what we make it

Featured

The Arctic, the climate: some gloom but no doom – and a promise of progress

Last Monday, Germany’s public service broadcaster ARD dedicated its prime viewing time after the evening news to the Arctic, the start of a whole week of themed programme contributions. It showed a film documentary on the MOSAiC project, a spectacular year-long expedition, during which the legendary icebreaker Polarstern – (pole star) belonging to Germany’s polar …

Continue reading The Arctic, the climate: some gloom but no doom – and a promise of progress

Featured

When the Arctic ice won’t freeze

Imagine you head for the North Pole to test your brand-new  giant, state-of-the-art icebreaker – and you can’t find any ice thick enough to smash.  That must have been a frustrating anti-climax for the crew and operators of the Russian Arktika. When I read the story by Thomas Nilsen on the Independent Barents Observer, I …

Continue reading When the Arctic ice won’t freeze

Featured

Zackenberg revisited –Greenland climate research station under threat from permafrost thaw

Zackenberg station from the air (I.Quaile) In the remote, high Arctic region of north-eastern Greenland, at 74° North, a scattered group of blue and white buildings and tent-like structures perches above a river which starts to swell with melting ice, in a broad valley amongst green and brown hills, dotted with snow. For almost 25 …

Continue reading Zackenberg revisited –Greenland climate research station under threat from permafrost thaw

Featured

Hooked on the Arctic

This blog post was written for Arctic Relations , a website devoted to “Arctic scholarship and stories”, led by Hannes Hansen-Magnusson, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Cardiff, and coordinated by Charlotte Gehrke from the same University. There is a wonderful network of Arctic experts and enthusiasts around the planet. Thanks …

Continue reading Hooked on the Arctic

Featured

Arctic conferencing in times of corona

With much of the world in lockdown and the potentially lethal corona virus dominating the agenda, it is easy to become distracted from other important issues – such as climate change in the Arctic. There is a trend - which I consider unfortunate and counter-productive - especially in the social media to discuss how the …

Continue reading Arctic conferencing in times of corona

Featured

A warm breeze coming up from the pole? What’s going on in Antarctica?

Scientists find ancient Antarctic ice melt could happen again, raising sea levels by three metres. During my first trip to Australia back in 1990, in the days when we had no mobiles and travellers had to queue up outside a telephone box, a breath of chilly air (by Australian winter standards) prompted a local next …

Continue reading A warm breeze coming up from the pole? What’s going on in Antarctica?

Featured

2020 – Crunch time – or squelch time – for the Arctic?

I would love to be looking forward to the 2020s as the decade when the Arctic as we have known it will be saved; climate change decisively halted; emissions will peak; fossil fuels become true fossils; sustainable living will be the 'in' -thing. The Arctic will not become ice-free in summer after all. And Fridays …

Continue reading 2020 – Crunch time – or squelch time – for the Arctic?

Featured

COP25 and the Arctic: stakes high, expectations low as tipping points tumble

Another year, another COP... What's a year in the history of a planet? And as we head for 2020 – the start of a new decade - what's ten years in the evolution of the earth? The UNFCCC tells us COP25 serves to “build ambition ahead of 2020, the year in which countries have committed …

Continue reading COP25 and the Arctic: stakes high, expectations low as tipping points tumble

Featured

Arctic sea ice record low. Can we communicate our way out of climate paralysis?

The latest figures from the NSIDC do not make happy reading. The Arctic sea ice extent averaged for October 2019 was 5.66 million square kilometers (2.19 million square miles), the lowest in the 41-year continuous satellite record. The experts tell us this was 230,000 square kilometers (88,800 square miles) below that observed in 2012—the previous …

Continue reading Arctic sea ice record low. Can we communicate our way out of climate paralysis?

Featured Polar bear on melting ice

Polar bear pictures and the climate emergency

Recently, the picture editor of the Guardian, Fiona Shields, published a piece explaining "why we are going to be using fewer polar bears and more people to illustrate our coverage of the climate emergency". She writes: "At the Guardian we want to ensure that the images we publish accurately and appropriately convey the climate crisis …

Continue reading Polar bear pictures and the climate emergency

Featured

Warming Arctic, warming world: the chilling truth

When the latest IPCC report on climate change and the ocean and cryosphere was published last month, I wrote this commentary for Deutsche Welle. It is so directly related to the Ice Blog brief that it seems right to publish it again here. I am especially encouraged by the reactions of some of my young …

Continue reading Warming Arctic, warming world: the chilling truth

Featured

Ice Blog reloaded

Melting ever-faster: the Greenland ice sheet (Pic: Irene Quaile) Changing Arctic, Changing World This is a continuation of the Ice Blog. My fascination with the Arctic started back in 2007, when I was invited to join an international radio project to cover the International Polar Year. It was the beginning of a love affair and …

Continue reading Ice Blog reloaded