The Arctic…fragile and there are lurking dangers to man.
MK Nature Design speaks today about the arctic. Something that is important to her. As the permafrost melts, new discoveries will be made. Some will be good and others could be fatal. And the impact of something else? Our children will decide whether it’s important!
New dinosaur bones have been found in North Slope, Alaska. This was a coastal plain in prehistoric times. The first bones were found in 1961. Now many new species of dinosaur have been found and named! It is believed that they had eyes developed for the long dark winter days and were able to live in the cold. But it is not known if they were warm blooded or not. The new species found are a horned dinosaur … Pachyrhinosaurus and a pygmy tyrannosaur…Nanuqsaurus hoglundii which means polar bear lizard in Inuit. Last year a hadrosaur was discovered and named Ugunaaluk kuukpikensis which is a duckbilled herbivore and the name in Inuit roughly means “ancient grazer of Coleville” (Alaska Dispatch News, August 6, 2016). This is history in the making everyone. We are actually discovering and naming new species! This is incridible! For more information go to the article here.
However with the thawing permafrost something lethal has been exposed as well…anthrax! Anthrax is an infectious disease of warm blooded animals (cattle, sheep, caribou) caused by a spore forming bacteria (Merriam Webster Dictionary, online). It is transmissible to humans by the handling of contaminated tissue (ie. hair). It causes ulcers of the skin and in the lungs and can be fatal. There is an ongoing anthrax outbreak in Siberia, Russia (Pacific Standard, 2016). July temperatures have been as high as 35’C (95’F) in Siberia resulting in the melting of the permafrost and possibly caribou carcasses or human remains. This has resulted in an anthrax outbreak. The cause is not sure. Russian troops trained in biological warfare have been dispatched to the arctic. The last anthrax outbreak was in 1941. It is believed that the anthrax found its way into a Siberian water source and then to humans. Migratory birds are of a concern. The recent outbreak was predicted. Bacteria have been found in permafrost that has been exposed to temperatures of up to -40’C (-40’F) and have been buried for three million years. Most bacteria are harmless but no one knows what may be uncovered with the melting permafrost. The extreme heat due to climate change has caused permafrost melting and erosion and is thus contributing to the anthrax outbreak in Siberia. You can read more in this article.
Climatic warming also seems to be influencing the location of the north pole. The north pole has been situated over water and has fluctuated a bit already (which is normal) but climate change seems to be contributing to a fluctuation in one direction. It is stated by National Geographic (April, 2016) the north pole is shifting eastward, about 10cm/year. As ice melts and aquifers drain, the earth’s mass balance is changed resulting in a change in the spin axis of the earth as well. The earth moves on it’s axis and spins. The points of the axes are the south and the north pole. A wobble in the earth’s axis happens every ten years (the magnetic poles are something completely different). The rotational poles have been measured since 1899 using relative positions of stars and then satellite telemetry. Since 2000 the north pole has drifted eastward by 75′. This is about 10 cm/year. It is not enough to worry about now but our children may have to decide whether it is significant in the future. The huge ice sheets over Greenland and west Antarctic are important when considering this shift since the earth’s mass distribution is changed. That means that where the heavy and light things on earth are found is changed. And this effects the rotation of the earth. Interesting! High water loss (ie due to evaporation) also effects the earth’s mass distribution. This is occurring in Eurasia, in India and around the Caspian Sea. So the earth is lighter in weight in these areas because the water is lost to the air and is not returned as precipitation. In addition people are using up water from underground wells. All of this results in less weight in that area. Schmidt, a NASA Scientist, agrees that human activity has resulted in ice sheet melting and groundwater use. This has also contributed to the shifting of the North Pole. For more information follow this link.
Please read my blog from three days ago…an update on Sergey Kechimov, the guardian of Lake Imlor in Russia!
If you have found this article interesting or have questions, or if you don’t agree, please leave a comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter. I would love to hear from you :). I will post twice today and have re-posted some work. I exhibit my Blue Heron painting in another post and then this post about the arctic. I am passionate about the arctic, the environment, nature and art! Until next week around noon!