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from Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

“Science in the News” is produced daily by Sigma Xi as a service for its members and the public. It highlights science and technology news stories appearing in the mainstream media. The accompanying Web links provide access to the full text of the articles on the Web sites of the individual media outlets from which they are taken. For more about the service, visit American Scientist Online.

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June 30, 2008

Arctic Could See First Ice-Free Summer This Year
from ABC News

The distinct possibility that the North Pole could be free of sea ice — for the first time in recorded history — may become a cold reality this summer.

The Arctic’s thick, resilient multiyear sea ice (frozen sea surface), which usually accumulates and lasts through the annual melting season, has started to give way to thinner, vulnerable first-year ice.

Satellite data gathered by the … National Snow and Ice Data Center showed that young sea ice, which is no more than about 60 inches deep and much more susceptible to melting away, now makes up only 72 percent of the Arctic ice sheet. Using that estimate, scientists at the center see a 50 percent chance that ice at the highest point in the Arctic will melt by the summer’s end.
see previous Where is… Bethel ice pack

  1. Where is… transport hub of the world « Grassroots Science
  2. How low can it go? Arctic meltdown « Grassroots Science
  3. Animated Arctic ice retreat for 2007: watch the melt rushing by « Grassroots Science
  4. Arctic ice pack difficult to “heal” massive Beaufort fractures « Grassroots Science

Sea of Trash
from the New York Times Magazine

Off Gore Point, where tide rips collide, the rolling swells rear up and steepen into whitecaps. Quiet with concentration, Chris Pallister decelerates from 15 knots to 8, strains to peer through a windshield blurry with spray, tightens his grip on the wheel and, like a skier negotiating moguls, coaxes his home-built boat … through the chaos of waves.

… A 55-year-old lawyer with a … private law practice in Anchorage, Pallister spends most of his time directing a nonprofit group called the Gulf of Alaska Keeper, or GoAK (pronounced GO-ay-kay).

… In practice, the group has, since Pallister and a few like-minded buddies founded it in 2005, done little else besides clean trash from beaches. All along Alaska’s outer coast, Chris Pallister will tell you, there are shores strewn with marine debris, as man-made flotsam and jetsam is officially known. Most of that debris is plastic, and much of it crosses the Gulf of Alaska or even the Pacific Ocean to arrive there.
see previous Where is… duckie invasion

Arctic Volcanoes Found Active at Unprecedented Depths
from National Geographic News

Buried under thick ice and frigid water, volcanic explosions are shaking the Arctic Ocean floor at depths previously thought impossible, according to a new study.

Using robot-operated submarines, researchers have found deposits of glassy rock—evidence of eruptions—scattered over more than 5 square miles of the seabed.

Explosive volcanic eruptions were not thought to be possible at depths below the critical pressure for steam formation, or 2 miles. The deposits, however, were found at seafloor depths greater than 2.5 miles.