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The Arctic in Washington, DC

Guest Post by Heleen van Soest

To get an idea of climate, energy and biodiversity policies in the US, Heleen van Soest visited Washington DC, in January and February 2014. She attended the 3 days conference Building Climate Solutions, and had interviews at a number of institutions and think tanks. In a couple of guest posts, she shares her thoughts.

Post 6: Arctic temperatures in Washington, DC

Don’t forget to follow Bernice Notenboom’s Arctic March, may be the last ice expedition: On twitter: @arcticmarch

As it was pretty cold during the conference Building Climate Solutions, it seemed appropriate to  join two symposia about the Arctic. The first discussed the current state of affairs, changes, and challenges from different perspectives. For example, what will happen to transportation? An obvious answer is more shipping due to melting sea ice, but there will also be difficulties with ice roads on land. As to ecosystems: how will the ocean ecosystems be affected by and adapt to the changing conditions? That will be interesting, as changes somewhere in the system will have cascading effects throughout the food web, but will also affect the ocean’s ability to absorb our CO2. The second symposium was promisingly called ‘An Arctic Preservation Roadmap’, but really was more about metrics (e.g. the 100-year Global Warming Potential, GWP). Still interesting, though: how to account for the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, including ocean acidification and local soot pollution? Those turn out to be pretty important in the Arctic. The session further discussed regional sulphate cooling zones and the role of the polar vortex in the current cold wave here in the U.S. (see this NOAA page).