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Climate Change in the Barents Sea – June 21st, 2013

70.2N 50.8E

June 21st, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Russia – June 21st, 2013

Visible on the right side of this image is the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, part of Russia, between the Barents and Kara Seas. Recent data over the last decade show an Arctic wide temperature increase consistent with model projections of global warming rather than showing regional warming patterns which would have been caused by natural variability as occurred in previous Arctic warming episodes such as the 1930s.

While a major surprise was the nearly 40% loss of September sea ice extent in 2007, the major change is that in every year since then sea ice has been below 30% and that much old, thick sea ice has disappeared. Extensive forest fires are another major Arctic change. These shifts seem to be rapid and occurring 20-30 years earlier than expected by steady processes in climate forecast models.

The Arctic is normally dominated a very stable “Polar Vortex” of counter-clockwise circulating winds surrounding the North Pole which traps the cold Arctic air mass at high latitudes. However, during early winter of 2009-2010 the Polar Vortex weakened due to higher geopotential heights over the Arctic, allowing cold air to spill southwards and be replaced by warm air moving poleward, a warm Arctic –cold continent climate pattern. One
indicator of a weak Polar Vortex is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index which in December 2009 through February 2010 had its most negative value (weak vortex) in 145 years of record.

Meteorological attribution to these sub-Arctic events is difficult. Certainly random chaos in the development of weather patterns can produce such extreme events. There is a potential impact, however, from Arctic regions where heat stored in the ocean in sea-ice-free and thin ice areas has been released to the lower atmosphere during autumn. One would not expect a sub-Arctic impact in every year or the in the same locations every year. The Barents Sea seems to be part of the Arctic wide warming pattern, while northern Europe is in the subArctic high climate variability zone (click here for more information).

Phytoplankton Bloom Flourishing in Barents Sea

70.4N 48.0E

August 7th, 2012 Category: Phytoplankton

Russia – August 6th, 2012

A phytoplankton bloom flourishes in the Barents Sea, tinging it bright hues of green and turquoise (click here for previous images). Visible at the top right is Yuzhny, the southern island of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, lying north of Russia.

Phytoplankton blooms are common in the Barents Sea in August, although their timing and development, as well as the different phytoplankton species of which they are composed, vary greatly, due to factors such as the polar front, ice cover, freshwater runoff and ice melting.

Bays and Rivermouths Along Northwestern Coast of Russia – September 29th, 2009

68.0N 45.0E

September 29th, 2009 Category: Image of the day, Rivers

Russia - July 28th, 2009

Russia - July 28th, 2009

Bays by Kanin Peninsula

Bays by Kanin Peninsula

Several rivermouths and bays mark the shoreline of this area of northwestern Russia.

The land features visible include the edge of the Kola Peninsula (lower left corner), part of the Murmansk Oblast, the Kanin Peninsula (east of the former) in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the hooked southern tip of Mezhdusharskiy Island (top center) of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

Between the Kola and Kanin Peninsulas, the Mezen River empties tan sediments into Mezen Bay, with an area of 6,630 km², part of the White Sea (see close-up for more detailed view).

On the eastern side of the Kanin Peninsula, some sediments also frame the coast of Chesha Bay (Chiosha Bay), an inlet of the Barents Sea. The bay is 84 miles (135 km) wide and 62 miles (100 km) long (see close-up).

Continuing eastward along the coast, the Pechora River spills darker brown sediments into the Pechora Sea. This 1,809 km long river runs from the Ural Mountains to Nosovaya at the shores of the sea.

The Circular Kolguyev Island, Russia

April 6th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Russia - April 5th, 2009

Russia - April 5th, 2009

Russia’s round Kolguyev Island stands out amids the clouds and melting ice in the south-eastern Barents Sea, to the north-east of the Kanin Peninsula (left) and south of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago (top center).

The approximately circular-shaped island has a diameter of 80 km and is 4968 km2 in area. The highest point on the island is at 50 m.

The vast wetland consists of many bogs and morainic hills, covered by vegetation characteristic of the tundra. There is only one inhabited settlement on the island, Bugrino, located on the southeast coast.

Clouds and Ice off Russian Coast, Arctic Ocean

March 27th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Russia - March 12th, 2009

Russia - March 12th, 2009

Close-up

Close-up

Clouds make linear patterns (see close-up) over the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Russia.

The land visible at the bottom left is part of the Kola Peninsula in the Murmansk Oblast. The Russian mainland lies to the right, with the Kanin Peninsula jutting out just east of the Kola Peninsula.

The other landmasses visible are islands, seemingly connected to the continent by ice. Kolguyev Island is located in the south-eastern Barents Sea, to the north-east of the Kanin Peninsula.

The white, hooked strip of land coming down from the top center is actually two islands: Severny and Yuzhny, in the the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

Yuzhny, the southern island, is separated from Vaygach Island by the Kara Strait. This 56 km strait connects the Kara Sea and the Barents Sea.

In turn, Vaygach Island is separated from mainland Russia’s Yugorsky Peninsula by the Yugorsky Strait.