Magazine article Geographical

Polar Politics: DUNCAN DEPLEDGE Is the Director of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions Secretariat in Westminster and a Special Adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee

Magazine article Geographical

Polar Politics: DUNCAN DEPLEDGE Is the Director of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions Secretariat in Westminster and a Special Adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee

Article excerpt

ON THE SOUTHERN edge of the remote Kongsfjorden (King's Fjord) on the west side of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, an international research community representing ten different nations spent the long summer days studying the Arctic's changing climate and environment.

Situated at 78[degrees] 55'N, 11[degrees] 56'E, Ny-[Angstrom]lesund is the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. During the Summer Recess, eight members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Polar Regions, chaired by James Gray MP since 2015, spent three days there to see for themselves some of the dramatic changes already unfolding in the Arctic, and the important scientific work being undertaken there.

The eight members who travelled to Ny-[Angstrom]lesund (sponsored by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Mamont Foundation) were a diverse group comprising MPs and Peers from the four largest parties in Parliament (Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish National Party, and the Liberal Democrats). The group as a whole shared a keen interest in learning more about why Britain is investing in Arctic research (more than [pounds sterling]30million over the past decade), what climatic changes are being observed in the Arctic, the potential economic implications, and, for the MPs in particular, how the lives of their constituents might be impacted by those changes.

Svalbard itself is of immense value to the scientific community. With the Gulf Stream flowing past its western shores, the local environment is far warmer than anywhere else so far north, making it easier for scientists to be there. It also sits on a major gateway to the Arctic for many oceanic and atmospheric pollutants arriving from industrial sites further south, particularly in Europe, allowing scientists to investigate not just the effects of changes in the Arctic, but also the causes.

The group was hosted in Ny-[Angstrom]lesund by British scientists working out of the Natural Environment Research Council's 'UK Arctic Research Station'. The station which was established in 1992, provides UK researchers and others with dedicated support to conduct their fieldwork.

During the group's stay, members heard about the innovative work of Dr Edward King from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) who is using ground-penetrating radar to map changes in glaciers (technology that he has also deployed in Antarctica). A field visit to one of the glacier's that Dr King was working on brought home to the group just how much Ny-[Angstrom]lesund itself had changed over recent decades, where the average winter temperature is now 10[degrees]C warmer than the long-term average, and sea-ice has virtually disappeared from the fjord. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.