Arctic Security - our Annual Report for 2007 available

Global warming is enhancing in the Arctic regions. The air temperature has increased to double that of the global average over the last 100 years, the ice cover is decreasing at a rate of 3 – 5% per decade while the thicker multi-year ice is decreasing at a rate of 7 – 10% per decade, the river discharge from Russia is increasing, the tundra-permafrost is thawing and the snow cover on land is decreasing. Furthermore, in the past few years the Greenland ice sheet has lost mass along its edges – more than the accumulation increase in the interior. The Greenland ice sheet is a “wild card” in the global climate system with future impact on the global sea level rise and a potential impact on the thermohaline circulation (Gulf Stream decrease). However, it should be pointed out that a strong natural variability at the interannual time scale takes place in the Arctic region and also causes strong regional variability.

Global warming in the Arctic region can have both positive and negative effects. It is easy to understand that a retreating ice cover will make off-shore oil and gas production easier in the future. On the other hand, the thawing of the tundra and permafrost will cause problems for the onshore gas and oil industry. Furthermore, the thawing permafrost will cause a lot of infrastructure problems for the population living in this region. Another big question is what will happen with the huge methane reservoirs which at present are frozen in the permafrost – also located offshore.

The Science report from the Nansen Center for 2007 is dealing with examples of different high latitude scientific and applied studies related to Arctic Security. Our Annual Report for 2007 is available at:

http://www.nersc.no/main/about/annual_reports/NERSC-2007.pdf