The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2008 and 2008 Deselect

  1. At least 150 long-finned pilot whales have died in a mass stranding off Tasmania's west coast. The stranded whales were discovered on Saturday and members of the local community and government officials worked to rescue them, but the whales had been badly injured by the rocks.

  2. Last Saturday 64 long-finned pilot whales were stranded at Anthony's Beach on Tasmania's north-west coast. Eleven of those whales were rescued and returned to sea.

  3. The German research vessel Polarstern has returned on October 17th to Bremerhaven from the Arctic Sea. It has cruised as the first research vessel ever both the Northeast and the Northwest Passages and thereby circled the North Pole. On board were 47 researchers from 12 nations. Because of the small ice cover, the expedition members were able to research hitherto uncharted waters.

  4. Annual mean growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 2.2 ppm per year in 2007 (up from 1.8 ppm in 2006), and above the 2.0 ppm average for the period 2000-2007. The average annual mean growth rate for the previous 20 years was about 1.5 ppm per year. This increase brought the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 383 ppm in 2007, 37% above the concentration at the start of the industrial revolution (about 280 ppm in 1750). The present concentration is the highest during the last 650,000 years and probably during the last 20 million years. [ppm = parts per million].

  5. Satellites images show that melting ice openend up North-west and North-east passages simultaneously. For the first time the North Pole can be circumnavigated.

  6. Scientists have spotted a humpback whale, which is estimated to be around 12 meters long, off Germany's Baltic coast near Cape Arkona on Friday 25 July, 2008. The last time a living humpback whale was spotted in German seas was nearly 30 years ago.

  7. A further break-up phase started at 30 May 2008. In this break-up event 160 km² got lost until 31 May 2008. This is the first documentation of a break-up event in winter. This break-up has not finished yet , as a high-resolution image of the German TerraSAR-X (DLR) satellite from 10 June 2008 shows.

  8. The research icebreaker Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research finished first Antarctic field season within the International Polar Year. 58 scientists from ten countries were on board the Polarstern in the Southern Ocean from 6 February until 16 April, 2008. The Antarctic deep sea gets colder, which might stimulate the circulation of the oceanic water masses. This is the first result of the expedition. At the same time satellite images from the Antarctic summer have shown the largest sea-ice extent on record. In the coming years autonomous measuring buoys will be used to find out whether the cold Antarctic summer induces a new trend or was only a „slip“.

  9. The world's oldest recorded tree is a 9,550 year old spruce in the Dalarna province of Sweden. The spruce tree has shown to be a tenacious survivor that has endured by growing between erect trees and smaller bushes in pace with the dramatic climate changes over time.

  10. According to the UNEP-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), data from nearly 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled. The centre, based at Switzerland's University of Zurich, has been tracking glaciers for more than one century, and has noted that while between 1980-1999 average ice loss had been 0.3 meters per year compared to 0.5 meters after the start of the new millennium.

  11. For the third time since 1996, United States officials have flooded the Grand Canyon, in an effort to preserve local ecology and species. The water was released from the Glen Canyon Dam, which dams up the Colorado River and creates the reservoir Lake Powell. The ecosystem was altered when the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in 1963. When the dam was opened Wednesday, March 5 for 60 hours the Grand Canyon Researchers hope the flood will help to restore Colorado River habitats for endangered species in the Grand Canyon. Subsequent scientists will document habitat changes.

  12. The extraordinary warming along the Antarctic Peninsula has led in the past to the disintegration of seven ice shelves. The recent break-up of nearly 400km² happened between 28 and 29 Feb 2008 in less than 24 hours. Previous to that event, in July 2007 a rift of 52km length was formed, probably with the speed of sound in less than a minute. The central part of Wilkins ice shelf was formerly connected by a 20km wide bridge of 200-250m thick ice to two islands, which stabilised the whole ice shelf. This connection is now narrowed to only 6km. The fact that the remaining ice mass is already fractured, let us fear that the connection will soon disintegrate.