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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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