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Executive Summary for August 18th

We review the latest Arctic news, including plans for a massive data center in northern Norway, a new Canadian conservation area, and some crazy climate change records set in the Arctic in 2016.

Published on Aug. 18, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Arctic Offer Cold Storage for Big Data

The BBC reports that a United States-Norwegian partnership called Kolos has released plans for the world’s largest data center, which will be located in Ballangen, Norway. Although the center will initially consume only 70 megawatts of power, Kolos plans to eventually draw more than 1,000MW to power its computer servers. The firm says that the cooler climate and access to hydropower should keep energy costs down.

In fact, the Kolos co-chief executive, Mark Robinson, told the BBC, “It’s quite literally the lowest power cost in Europe – and 100 percent of the power is renewable on one of the most stable grids in the world.”

That low cost may help Kolos compete with larger companies with similar data centers, like Amazon and Google. However, for now, Kolos is still working to raise the remaining money to fund the center’s construction.

Inuit Helped Build a New Arctic Conservation Area

For almost 50 years, Canada’s Inuit and the Canadian government have been at odds over the protection of a major marine area off of the nation’s northern coast. But Eye on the Arctic has reported that the Canadian government, the government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced an agreement to create a new national marine conservation area. The conservation area will cover more than 131,000 sq km (50.6 sq mi) and will protect major feeding and breeding habitats for polar bears, walruses, bearded seals and bowhead whales.

The designation prevents any exploration or drilling for fossil fuels or mineral resources in the area. Since the 1960s, Inuit groups have been fighting to block oil and gas drilling within the newly protected zone. The agreement does allow for Inuit hunting rights.

The Arctic Holds the Craziest Climate Records from 2016

This week, Climate Central highlighted some recent climate records that have gone underreported. Among them: temperatures across the Arctic spiked to alarming levels in 2016. The ice-free areas of the Barents Sea were 11 degrees C (20F) warmer than average. And waters off of Alaska and Greenland were 10-10.5C (13-14F) warmer than average, and the land surface temperature in the Arctic was 2C (3.6F) warmer than the 1981-2010 average. All of this warming led to the smallest annual winter peak of snow ice ever recorded.

Researchers expect to see an increasingly hotter Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.

Recommended Reading

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Ballangen.

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