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Todd Woody, Executive Editor, Environment, News Deeply

Executive Summary for August 11th

We review the latest Arctic news, including how this year’s seasonal retreat of Arctic sea ice stacks up against the satellite record, Norway’s ongoing efforts to find new offshore oil deposits, and an unusual outbreak of wildfire in Greenland.

Published on Aug. 11, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Sea Ice Hanging Tight

The retreat of Arctic sea ice in 2017 has so far been less dramatic than last year, thanks to variable weather across the Arctic.

As Nunatsiaq News reports, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, predicts that this year will see sea ice decline to its sixth-lowest extent, compared against 38 years of satellite records. In 2016, Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent.

For the month of July, sea ice reached its fifth-lowest extent. While temperatures were above average in Alaska, they dipped lower than average over Greenland and eastern Siberia. And while heavy ice loss tends to be accompanied by high-pressure zones, this past month saw low-pressure zones sit over the North Pole and Canada’s High Arctic islands.

It’s a Gas

Norway’s Statoil has so far had a disappointing season drilling in the Barents Sea. Hoping to discover large oil deposits, they instead largely found natural gas. But as MarineLink reports, they are about to start drilling at this year’s most promising prospect.

The new prospect is Korpfjell, which Statoil hopes will yield the equivalent of more than 250 million barrels of oil. Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum, a partner in the license, expects the site to yield four times that amount. By comparison, Statoil’s Kayak well, drilled in June, proved to have only between 25 and 50 million barrels of oil – too small to be worth developing.

Fire and Ice

Unusual wildfires have broken out this week in Greenland. As the BBC reports, experts believe the fire burning northeast of Sisimiut is being fed by dried-out peaty soil, rather than shrubs or mosses.

Melting permafrost is believed to have helped create these conditions. While so-called soil fires have been reported before in Greenland, it’s unusual for them to reach this size. Police are asking hikers and tourists to stay away.

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