Europe is losing seasonal sea ice faster than perennial

Walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected marine mammal species

Credit: National Geographic 1) Sergey Gorshkov, 2) Nansen Weber, 3) and 7) Paul Nicklen, 4) Florian Schulz, 5) Kaido Haagen, 8) Brian Skerry; IUCN 6) Morten Joergensen; 9) IFAW.

According to the preliminary results of an ongoing research where Joan Parera and Raquel Ubach are developing a new indicator for monitoring sea ice extent, seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial Parera proposes to adapt the IceMap250 algorithm to European sea regions. The use of MODIS optical and infrared imagery allows sea ice extent mapping at a higher resolution (250 m at nadir) than that of the commonly used satellite data, thus enabling a finer vulnerability mapping in the European sea regions to determine where conservation measures should be prioritized.

The continued loss of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere due to global warming poses a threat on biota and human activities, evidencing the necessity of efficient sea ice monitoring tools. To prove the indicator’s utility and applicability, a vulnerability assessment has been carried out for nine sea ice associated marine mammal species, following the cumulative impact mapping methodology. Same preliminary results rank species vulnerability, being walruses, belugas and narwhals the most affected by the loss of sea ice.

Impact has been found to be larger north of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and in the central Barents Sea, highlighting the need for conservation measures in these areas.

Key messages from the preliminary results

1) Seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial sea ice in the European sea regions. Perennial sea ice refers to the extent of the ice cover which is stable all year long, i.e. the minimum extent (September), while seasonal sea ice is the variable portion of the ice cover, i.e. the difference between the maximum extent (March) and the minimum. Contrary to the observed tendencies, sea ice in the whole Northern Hemisphere is declining faster in September.

 2) walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected by the loss of sea ice FROM the nine analysed marine mammal species. The impact caused by this loss is especially severe in the northern coast of Svalbard and the central Barents Sea.

 3) A new map synthesis approach has allowed the minimization of classification errors and the effects of atmospheric conditions. Together with other changes concerning the classification method, the modified algorithm has achieved systematically better total accuracies than the original IceMap250.

Flows

CumulativeImpact_MapSeaIce_PresenceLikelihood_Map

Land recycling in Europe

The EEA has recently published a report entitled “Land recycling in Europe“, which presents approaches to measuring the extent and impacts of redevelopment and densification of previously developed land.

Chapter 2, ‘The extent of land recycling and densification’, was developed largely under the
ETC/ULS 2015 task 1.8.2.8 ‘Use of Urban Atlas (UA) and Corine Land Cover (CLC) data to calculate land
recycling and densification’, by Roger Milego (UAB), Rastislav Stanik (EEA) and Geertrui Louwagie (EEA).

Land_recycling

On average, land recycling has increased in Europe but the levels remain low compared to land take, the report shows. Based on Copernicus satellite data, land recycling as a share of total land consumption across EEA member and cooperating countries (EEA-39) has increased from about 2.0-2.2 % in 1990-2000 to about 2.7-2.9 % in 2006-2012. However, the rates vary considerably across countries.

The report is fully available in PDF following this link.

European Topic Centre on Urban, Land and Soil Systems (ETC ULS)

The European Topic Centre on Urban, Land and Soil systems, ETC/ULS, is supporting the European Environment Agency (EEA) in supporting monitoring of urban development in Europe, creating seamless European wide spatial reference data and develop and analyse various land related indicators.

Urban areas are home for most of the EU population and driver for economic growth and innovation, but their further sustainable growth represents a challenge both for internal management and planning as well as for the surrounding environment (land, soil, biodiversity).

Urban, land and soil systems is therefore a new strategic line of the EEA MAWP 2014-2018 reflecting an evolution towards a more integrated approach to environmental issues, including societal challenges mirrored on the inclusion of urban areas.

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