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Executive Summary for June 24th

In this weekly roundup, we review and analyze the latest news and key developments in the Arctic, including Brexit, permafrost thaw and Russia’s new nuclear icebreaker.

Published on June 24, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Brexit Bad for British Arctic Science

The U.K. vote to leave the European Union will have a negative impact on science, including its polar research, reports Deutsche Welle. Polar research counts on international collaboration and the U.K. has benefited from funding from the E.U., it reported. The U.K. contributed about 5.4 billion euros ($6bn) to E.U. research between 2007 to 2013, but received 8.8 billion euros from the E.U. for research, including Arctic research, according to a report published by the Royal Society.

On top of that, British scientists will now likely have more trouble moving within European countries to do their work, as restriction of free movement between Britain and the rest of the E.U. will be a consequence of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U., the Deutsche Welle article said.

The international science journal Nature conducted a poll in March of nearly 2,000 scientists living in the U.K. It found that 83 percent supported remaining in the E.U.

Permafrost Thaw in the Spotlight

A study of aerial photos and satellite imagery of four ice-rich regions in northwestern Canada has found that the land area subject to slumping due to permafrost thaw has grown fourfold over 50 years in some regions, reports Environmental Research Web.

Not only has the area increased, but so too has the size of the slump and the rate of growth, according to the article. Warmer temperatures and increased precipitation have influenced the condition of the permafrost and made slopes unstable.

The news came as scientists from around the globe met in Germany for the International Conference on Permafrost. As that conference came to a close, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado, and the University of Calgary in Canada reported that, as the permafrost thaws, it is also opening up new underground pathways for water flow. Changes to the hydrology of the cryosphere will likely alter scientists’ understanding of freshwater flow into the Arctic Ocean.

The government of Nunavut has launched a website that tracks unstable permafrost conditions to help communities adapt to the changing climate, reported CBC News.

Massive Icebreaker Slips into Russian Waters

Russia has launched what will be the world’s biggest – and most powerful – icebreaker, reported the Independent Barents Observer.

The ship is the first of Russia’s new generation of nuclear-powered icebreakers – able to split 3-meter (10-feet) thick ice. It measures 173 meters (567 feet) long, 34 meters (112 feet) wide and will be powered by two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 175 megawatts.

The ship is one of several Russia plans to complete, reports KNOM. But the achievement should not cause alarm to other Arctic nations, the article cautions. Coast guards, it points out, are key to improving Arctic safety and security.

According to an article in Bellona, Russia will use the icebreakers to boost oil exploration. Russia’s Prirazlomnoye platform in the Pechora Sea, produced 70,000 tons of crude oil in 2014, it said.

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