Monday, 11 February 2019

Focus on Novaya Zemlya

Novaya Zemlya, in the Barents Sea has come into focus though this story.

Polar bears are on the Red List and have been protected in the Russian Arctic since 1956.

The Arctic is in transition, heading towards a warmer future with less ice, with maybe far-reaching implications for the king of the Arctic - the polar bear.

In recent years, polar bears have more frequently approached coastal towns in northern Russia, both on the mainland and on the archipelagoes.

Due to shrinking sea ice, the bears are often stranded on shore. Either because the sea ice retreat from shore much earlier in summer than before, or like on Novaya Zemlya, the sea simply does not freeze any more during winter.

Ice-map provided for the area by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute's Ice Service from Friday shows how the Kara Sea off the east coast of Novaya Zemlya is packed with very close drift ice, while there are mostly very open drift ice and open water along the west coast where Belushaya Guba is located.


It is also an area that Margo have been watching carefully since the 2018 melt season because of the large quantities of methane being released in the region.

A few months ago, Margo did a superb job in trying to answer the question as to why the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.

She came to the conclusion that there is so much more than what we are being told behind this.

Greenhouse gases - yews, for sure, but there may other factors coming into play.

This is Margo's conclusion. It's not exactly my language (although decreasingly so)

Before rejecting it have a look at the evidence first.

Novaya Zemlya: The Smoking Gun for Rapid Arctic Warming?

Why the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. It all centers around the tiny Russian island, Novaya Zemlya.

Margo has done a first-rate job of collecting information on Russia's massive nuclear testing program and providing evidence that this radioactivity and the heat associated with it has to have had a role in the warming of the Arctic and why Novaya Zemlya seems to be a centre for the massive release of methane in the region.

She does a first-rate job of demonstrating that there is more to the puzzle than just the release of methane from melting permafrost.

Take the time out to listen to the video below.

For ease I have put together all the material Margo has presented as well as material I have uncovered.

Firstly, a brief introduction to the area and its geography.

And the topography of the southern island. Plenty of material here for the melting of permafrost!

Margo goes through Wikipedia and other sources to look at the Soviet nuclear testing program and uncovers the huge number of tests - above ground, undergrounds and failed tests.

It's mind- blowing!

Here is footage of the 1961 explosion of Tsar Bomba, which had a reported yield of 50 megatons, the single most physically powerful device ever deployed on Earth.

It has been estimated that detonating the original 100 Mt design would have released fallout amounting to about 26% of all fallout emitted since the invention of nuclear weapons.

Here is a report on the test:

Date: 30 October 1961
Location: Novaya Zemlya, Russia, USSR
Type of event: burn injury from atmospheric nuclear test
At 8:33 UT on 30 October 1961 the USSR conducted the world's largest nuclear test. The device was designated RDS-220 and nicknamed "Vanya" or "Tsar Bomba" (King of Bombs); it was a three-stage thermonuclear device with a mass of 24.8 metric tons. The full design yield is reported as 100 megatons or 150 megatons, but in the test device the uranium sleeve on the tertiary stage was replaced with lead to reduce the yield to about 50 megatons. The RDS-220 was air-dropped from a Tupolev-95V bomber, a Tu-95 version specially modified to carry the device, from an altitude of 10,500 meters. It descended by parachute, allowing the bomber and chase planes to reach a distance of 45 km before detonation at an altitude of 3,500 meters with a yield of 58 megatons. Although the delivery bomber and chase planes had been painted with reflective paint to avoid thermal damage, cables were ignited on one Tupolev-16 chase plane, causing burns to one crew member.
Consequences: 1 injury.


And a report on a 1969 underground nuclear test.

At 07:00 UT on 14 October an underground nuclear test was conducted at the Matochkin Shar region in Novaya Zemlya. Three devices were detonated in two tunnels with a total yield of 540 kt: one device yielding between 20 and 150 kt along with one device yielding between 150 and 370 kt in tunnel A-7, at a depth of 500 meters; and one device yielding between 150 and 370 kt in tunnel A-9 at a depth of 520 meters. About one hour after the test a gas plume burst from the surface near tunnel A-9. Factors in the early venting included reaction with carbon dioxide in the surrounding rocks, thermal weakening of the cement plug around the nuclear device, and gas escape facilitated along a fault to the side of the mountain. Several hundred test personnel were in the vicinity and were not evacuated until 40 to 60 minutes later; the response to the accident was confused, compounded by the early departure of those in authority. On 24 October those more seriously exposed were transported to Moscow for examination and treatment. Over 80 people received doses of 40 to 80 rad.
Consequences: Unknown number of injuries.


This is the chart that Margo uses to conclude that warming in the Arctic started in 1960 which corresponds to the detonation of Tsar Bomba and subsequent tests.
Here is a collection of material that directly, or indirectly corroborates Margo's thesis

A science expedition to the area has discovered “big concentrations of radioactivity” in the ice – and concludes that the glaciers are melting into the sea at record speed.

It is December and European Arctic waters are free of ice way north of Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya.

The photo of a nuclear bomb test going terribly wrong in August 1987 is revealed by a Russian blogger.

We don't hear very much from Russia and climate change - so here are a couple of examples

Russian Ministry Warns of Coming Environmental Apocalypse Fueled by Climate Change

On thin ice, North Pole camp folds after only 12 days


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