Bulletin: Russia’s war has chilling effect on climate science as Arctic temperatures soar

Earlier in March, temperatures around the North Pole approached the melting point, right around the time of year that Arctic sea ice is usually most extensive. In some places, the Arctic was more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. It’s part of an alarming trend; over the past 30 years the region has warmed four times faster than the rest of the globe. The shift is transforming the Arctic land- and seascape, causing sea ice to melt, glaciers and ice sheets to retreat, and permafrost to thaw. And while the Arctic is particularly vulnerable to climate change, it also has an outsized potential to contribute to global warming, as melting permafrost releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

And yet, just when the climate scientists and governments across the eight Arctic states should be working together to understand and address the climate crisis, Russia’s war on Ukraine has forced the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group of Arctic states and Arctic Indigenous Peoples, to suspend their joint activities in protest of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

“It’s so crucial for us to not lose sight of accelerating climate change, and to be making as much progress as possible,” Marisol Maddox, a senior arctic analyst at the Polar Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, said. “And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating serious challenges to that within the Arctic context, because of the way that that’s manifested with the pause of the Arctic Council, and all of its subsidiary bodies.”

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This article was republished by Undark as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Bulletin: Russian military surrounds Europe’s largest nuclear power plant as Ukrainians block access roads

Russian military forces have taken control of the territory around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which contains six of country’s 15 nuclear reactors, heightening concerns that the safety of the plant and its workers could be at risk.

“The situation in Ukraine is unprecedented and I continue to be gravely concerned,” the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, told the organization in an emergency meeting on Wednesday. “It is the first time a military conflict is happening amidst the facilities of a large, established nuclear power program.”

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Bulletin: War has been an environmental disaster for Ukraine

If Russia embarks on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine—as military maneuvering suggests it might—US intelligence officials estimate that between 25,000 to 50,000 civilians could die. An additional 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers could also be killed. While the toll on human life would be steep, a full-scale military invasion would also have long-lasting environmental impacts in Ukraine.

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