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Entries in Ice (10)

Thursday
Jan102013

Killer Whales Trapped Under Canadian Sea Ice Free Themselves

ABC News(MONTREAL) -- The killer whales trapped under ice in a remote Quebec village reached safety after the floes shifted on Hudson Bay, according to the mayor's office in Inukjuak.

Water opened up around the area where the orcas had been coming up for air and the winds seemed to have shifted overnight, creating a passageway to the open water six miles away.

"This is great news," Johnny Williams, a local resident who works for the mayor's office, told ABC News. Williams said he was unsure how far the whales have moved, but that they were definitely not under the ice hole.

Residents in the remote village of Inukjuak had been watching helplessly as at least 12 whales struggled to breathe out of a hole slightly bigger than a pickup truck in a desperate bid to survive.

The community had asked the Canadian government for help in freeing the killer whales, believed to be an entire family. The government denied a request to bring icebreakers Wednesday, saying they were too far away to help. Inukjuak, about 900 miles north of Montreal, was ill-equipped to jump into action.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Low 

File photo. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Arctic sea ice is melting faster than climate models projected, already shrinking to a record minimum with several more weeks of this year’s melting season, according to scientists on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The sea ice area went below the sea ice area in 2007 around Aug. 20,” said Ola Johannessen, founding director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, an independent non-profit research foundation affiliated with the University of Bergen, Norway. The center conducts basic and applied environmental and climate research.

“In general, the ice area and extent has consistently decreased since 1960 and the reason is mainly the increase of CO2,” he said.

According to a report released Monday by U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice area has shrunk to 1.58 million square miles, breaking the previous minimum of 1.61 million square miles, set in 2007.

There will be both positive and negative effects from the record melting, Johannessen said.

On the positive side, with more water ice-free, the amount of shipping through the Northern Sea Route and the North West Passage, even directly across the Arctic Ocean, will increase.

There could also be increased oil production, since the Arctic holds 32 percent of the world’s untapped oil and gas reserves. Russia has put its first oil rig in the Arctic into operation, but it became a target of environmentalists last week when Greenpeace activists scaled it in protest.

But according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the loss of sea could accelerate global warming trends.

Arctic sea ice keeps the polar region cold and helps to moderate global climate. Over the past 30 years there has been a dramatic decrease in the thickness and extent of ice in the arctic.

“Melting of the Arctic is bad for climate change and fisheries,” Johannessen said.  Loss of sea ice will impact “ocean and weather patterns, and there will be increased teleconnection between high and low latitudes affecting the monsoon system in Asia and other parts of the world.”

The melt is also self-reinforcing, scientists agree. Since sea ice is white, it reflects 80 percent of the sunlight hitting it back back into space; the less of it is, the more heat the darker Arctic will absorb. Instead of reflecting 80 percent, it will absorb 90 percent of the sunlight, which will accelerate the thaw, scientists say. Several studies have found the Arctic could be ice free by 2040 or sooner.

As the Arctic melts, the ocean around it becomes warmer, leading to more loss of sea ice, and therefore a rise in sea levels.  Scientists say this sea level rise is impossible to avoid.

The Arctic Ocean has been covered with ice for more than 2.5 million years. During interglacial periods like the current one, ice melts in the summer and thaws in the winter.  Arctic sea ice reaches its maximum seasonal extent in March and shrinks through spring and summer to a minimum extent in September.

Throughout human civilization, this melting and freezing Arctic sea ice has been more or less consistent. However,what is being experienced now is unprecedented, scientists say.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

ICE Deports Human Rights Violator to Bosnia for Crimes Against Humanity

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Dejan Radojkovic, a former Bosnian-Serb police commander, Wednesday was deported to his native country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, for genocide crimes and atrocities against the Bosnian people. The deportation concluded a successful effort by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) that investigated the case.

“I applaud the outstanding work by ICE attorneys, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, and ERO officers in bringing a successful conclusion to this case. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our country does not serve as a haven for human rights violators and others who have committed heinous acts,” ICE Director John Morton said Thursday in a statement.
 
Upon arriving in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo Thursday, Radojkovic, 61, was immediately turned over to Bosnian law enforcement officials.
 
A former Las Vegas resident, Radojkovic faces charges for his role in the Srebrenica genocide. The genocide took place over the course of several days in July 1995 when thousands of Bosnian Muslims, mainly men and boys, were led to a “safe area” and then executed.
 
Authorities allege that Radojkovic used his position as a commander in the Special Forces Brigade to carry out the crimes.

ICE worked closely with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bosnian and Herzegovina prosecution as well as international court to complete the removal of Radojkovic from the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Is Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice Causing Harsher Winter Storms?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- New research suggests disappearing sea ice at the top of the planet is playing a “critical” role in driving colder, snowier winters here in the United States.

Retreating Arctic sea ice, according to the researchers, helps alter the atmosphere in two ways.

First, scientists found that less ice is causing a change in atmospheric circulation patterns, weakening the westerly winds that blow across the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans.  That weakened jet stream, in turn, allows more frequent surges of bitter cold Arctic air not only into the U.S., but also in Europe and east Asia.

“We have more cold air outbreaks,” said Jiping Liu, a senior research scientist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, and a co-author of the new study released Monday.

The second factor, Liu said, is that more water is evaporating into the air as Arctic ice at the ocean’s surface melts away.

“This greatly enhances the transfer of moisture from the ocean to the atmosphere,” Liu said.  That humidity, he says, essentially acts as fuel to help supercharge “Snowmageddon”-type storms like the ones that paralyzed parts of the northeastern U.S. in 2010.  A more recent, deadly deep freeze in Eastern Europe left 650 people dead.

“The record decline in Arctic sea ice is at least a critical contributor to recent snowy winters in northern continents,” Liu said.

Liu says the new research may also help connect the dots between human-caused global warming, vanishing ice and our changing weather.

Climate researchers believe that the three-decade decline in Arctic sea ice cannot be explained by natural causes alone.  The National Center for Atmospheric Research, for example, recently found that roughly half of Arctic sea ice decline from 1975 to 2005 can be blamed on the increasing amount of climate-changing greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide, that humans are releasing into the atmosphere.

“Is Arctic ice in a death spiral?  Maybe not yet, but it’s in big trouble,” Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, recently told ABC News, pointing out that the five lowest amounts of Arctic sea ice on record (since 1979) have all been recorded in the last five years.

If Arctic sea ice continues retreating as expected, the researchers said that “may load the dice” in favor of bigger, more persistent future snowstorms.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb062012

Cold Weather Continues to Plague Europe; Over 260 Dead

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- While the U.S. basks in relative warm weather this winter, Europe is having one hellacious season.

Reports say a cold snap has left over 260 people dead across the continent, including 122 deaths in Ukraine alone with some temperatures plummeting to below minus 36.5 Fahrenheit. Dozens of people have also died in Poland. The chilling temperatures were also blamed for fatalities in Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.

Snow, ice and frigid temperatures are wreaking havoc with everyday life in Europe and traveling has turned difficult as airports have shut down and trains are severely delayed.

The unusual cold snap has stretched as far south as Rome, which endured its heaviest snowfall in 27 years over the weekend, grinding traffic in Italy's biggest city to a halt.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

American Teen Deported to Colombia Is Heading Home

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Jakadrien Turner, the American teen who was mistakenly deported to Colombia, was put on a plane Friday bound for home in Texas.

"She is on a plane back to the U.S. as we speak," Ray Jackson, a lawyer for Turner's family, told ABC News.

The lawyer said that while the family is thrilled, they are also planning lawsuits.

"We are exploring a civil rights law suit against ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Houston Police and Colombian government... There is an egregious injustice and the ball has been dropped. ICE is the main culprit, but there are many parts of it where there is negligence," he said.

Turner, who turned 15 while in Colombia, was taken into custody by the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare on Dec. 1 after authorities determined she was a minor and an American.

During her time in Colombia, Turner was included in a government program called Welcome Home, which provided her with counseling, shelter and a job at a call center, according to the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare.

She posted often on Facebook under the name TiKa SoloToolonq, occasionally referencing her life in Houston and Dallas, and speaking of efforts to learn Spanish. She never indicated any attempts to move back to the United States, and while she often complained of boredom and unhappiness in Colombia, she appeared to be making a life there and was listed as "in a relationship" on Facebook.

Turner's bizarre adventure came to an end after her grandmother scoured the social networking site until she found her granddaughter and alerted authorities.

The teen was originally picked up by police in Houston for theft on Nov. 19, 2010, marking the last day her family had seen or heard from her.

During police questioning, officials said Turner gave the name Tika Lanay Cortez, a name Immigration and Customs Enforcement contends she simply made up, and told them she was a 21-year-old from Colombia with no identification. She continued to maintain her alias throughout the investigation and told officials she had no legal status in the U.S., an ICE statement said.

A number of database searches, which included checking her fingerprints, turned up nothing that contradicted her story, and according to ICE, they had no way of knowing that her story wasn't true. A missing persons report was filed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but an ICE spokesperson said that didn't show up in the course of the investigation.

Once she was convicted, Turner was handed over to ICE, to whom she maintained she was a Colombian citizen, even while being interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate. Eventually, the Colombian authorities agreed she was a Colombian citizen, and authorized her deportation, providing her with full Colombian citizenship upon arrival in the country.

Her family says they don't understand how something like this could have happened. "They didn't do their work," the girl's grandmother, Lorene Turner told ABC affiliate WFAA. "How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?"

ICE says it is investigating the matter. It's unclear what Turner's motives might have been for providing police with a false identity. The agency insists it takes the, "responsibility to verify the immigration status of individuals in the agency's custody very seriously."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

14-Year-Old US Citizen Deported to Colombia

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A 14-year-old American citizen has been living in a Central American country since last year after being deported by U.S. officials.

Jakadrien Turner had been missing from her home in Dallas since Nov. 19, 2010, when she was picked up by police in Houston for theft. She had no identifying documentation with her. During police questioning, officials said Turner gave the name Tika Lanay Cortez (a name Immigration and Customs Enforcement contends she simply made up), and told them she was a 21-year-old from Colombia.

She continued to maintain that identity throughout the investigation process, and told officials she had no legal status in the U.S., an ICE statement said. A number of database searches, which included checking her fingerprints, turned up nothing that contradicted her story, and according to ICE, they had no way of knowing that her story wasn't true. A missing persons report was filed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but an ICE spokesperson said that didn't show up in the course of the investigation.

An ICE official told ABC News that people who do enter the U.S. illegally often have no documentation whatsoever to identify them or a country of origin. So, they took Turner at her word when she insisted she was a 21-year-old Colombian citizen.

"[Turner] maintained this false identity throughout her local criminal proceedings in Texas where she was represented by a defense attorney and ultimately convicted," an ICE statement said. "At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false."

Once she was convicted, she was handed over to ICE, where she still said she was a Colombian citizen, even while being interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate. Eventually, the Colombian authorities agreed she was a Colombian citizen and authorized her deportation, providing her with full Colombian citizenship upon arrival in the country.

During her time in Colombia, Turner posted often on Facebook, under the name "TiKa SoloToolonq," occasionally referencing her life in Houston and Dallas, and speaking of efforts to learn Spanish. She never indicated any attempts to move back to the United States, and while she often complained of boredom and unhappiness in Colombia, she appeared to be making a life there.

Her family says they don't understand how something like this could have happened.

"I'm flabbergasted," her mother, Johnisa Turner, told ABC News affiliate WFAA. "Something definitely has to change."

Her grandmother, Lorene Turner, was the one who eventually found Jakadrian on Facebook, after months of searching.

"They didn't do their work," she told WFAA. "How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?"

WFAA reports Turner is being held in a detention center in Colombia, and Colombian authorities refuse to turn her over. ICE officials say they can't confirm those reports.

Still, her grandmother says she's optimistic.

"I feel like she will come home," Lorene told WFAA. "I just need help and prayer."

For their part, ICE says they are investigating the matter. It's unclear what Turner's motives might have been for providing police with a false identity. They say they take their "responsibility to verify the immigration status of individuals in the agency's custody very seriously."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

Bavarian Village Constructs Church with Snow, Ice

ARMIN WEIGEL/AFP/Getty Images(MITTERFIRMIANSREUT, Germany) -- A Church built entirely of snow and ice had its grand opening in the Bavarian village of Mitterfirmiansreut Wednesday night.

Villagers built the church, which is made up of more than 49,000 cubic feet of snow, to commemorate the construction of a similar snow church in the village 100 years ago.

The church at Mitterfirmiansreut, dubbed God’s Igloo by one German newspaper, is more than 65 feet in length and also contains a tower.  It was initially planned to be open before Christmas, according to Spiegel International Online, but the construction was delayed by warm weather and a lack of snow.

Although worship services will be held at the church, the religious radio station, Münchner Kirchenradio, has reported that the Catholic bishop of Passau, Wilhelm Schraml, has ruled out any masses, baptisms or weddings from being held there for theological reasons.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Arctic Sea Ice: Why Pay Attention, Record or No Record?

Michael Blann/Thinkstock(BREMEN, Germany) -- Did Arctic sea ice melt to a record-low level this summer? Researchers at the University of Bremen in Germany believe that it did, dipping 27,000 square kilometers below the previous record low set in 2007.

However, U.S. scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., are not ready to declare that the extent of Arctic sea ice has dropped below the record level.  At this point, the expectation is that 2011 will rank second -- right behind 2007 -- for record Arctic sea ice melt. Scientists at the International Arctic Research Center in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency concur. Final numbers will come in a few days.

Regardless of whether or not 2011 breaks a record, here’s the important point: Scientists say human-driven climate change continues to help push Arctic sea ice on a disturbing three-decade downward slide.

“Is Arctic ice in a death spiral? Maybe not yet, but it’s in big trouble,” NSIDC director Mark Serreze tells ABC News.

Serreze points out that the five lowest amounts of Arctic sea ice on record (since 1979) have all been recorded in the last five years. And it’s not just the amount of ice, but the quality. It’s also getting thinner, making it more sensitive to increases in temperature.

So why should we care about Arctic sea ice?

-- SEA LEVEL: Scientists tell ABC that Arctic sea ice acts as a giant air conditioner at the top of the planet, helping regulate the planet’s overall temperature. But as the white sea ice (which reflects a portion of the sun’s energy) melts, the darker water underneath absorbs energy, warming the water and creating a “feedback” that in turn, helps melt additional ice in a vicious cycle. Because it is already floating, this does not raise sea level much as it melts.

But in Greenland, it’s a different story. When ice calves off of Greenland’s glaciers, sea level rises. One recent study reported that Greenland glaciers lost 592 square miles of ice between 2000 and 2010. If Greenland melted entirely, global sea levels would rise about 20 feet.

-- WEATHER: Scientists say ice loss may help alter weather patterns across the planet. The jet stream, for example, could shift further north. That could bring more frequent and intense droughts to the U.S. A jet stream change might also affect the path of storms and hurricanes. And more open water and heat could help supercharge those storms.

Many scientists believe human-emitted greenhouse gases warming the planet are already loading the dice toward a future with more weather extremes.

-- WILDLIFE: Melting sea ice also bad news for a number of animals and organisms, including polar bears, who use the ice to hunt for food.

-- OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION: Melting ice literally removes a major barrier to oil and gas exploration in a remote and harsh environment. For years, oil companies and nations have been fighting turf wars over who gets which part of the (potentially very lucrative) sea floor. Exxon, for example, just entered into a new Arctic exploration deal with the Russian government that could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

So what’s causing the ice to melt?

It has been well-established through several peer-reviewed scientific papers that Arctic sea ice loss cannot be explained by natural causes alone. One recent study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that roughly half of the Arctic sea ice decline from 1975 to 2005 can be blamed on increasing amounts of greenhouse gases.

Those same researchers were surprised by computer models that predict a 10-year period where the ice melt could pause, and the amount even increase, thanks to natural weather variability that is hard to predict.

The latest thinking among scientists has summer sea ice vanishing from the Arctic well before the end of the century, perhaps within the next 50 years. Given that greenhouse gases are only expected to increase between now and then, scientists do not see a reversal of sea ice declines in the near future.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

US Officials: Immigration Agents Were Targeted in Mexican Ambush

Jaime Zapata. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(MEXICO CITY) -- Based on the evidence, two U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents were deliberately targeted in a shooting in Mexico Tuesday that left one dead and the other wounded.

U.S. officials say that ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and a fellow agent were attacked by ten gunmen while traveling between Mexico City and Monterrey.  The car they were driving bore diplomatic license plates.

Zapata, who was part of the ICE Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, suffered fatal wounds, while the other agent is expected to fully recover.

Their armored vehicle was tailed by others, with one vehicle cutting them off in an ambush.

In response to the shooting, believed to be the work of Mexican drug cartels, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Holder said they were creating a task force headed by the FBI to work with the Mexican government in finding the assailants.

Zapata is the first U.S. agent slain in Mexico since a Drug Enforcement Agency officer was murdered in 1985.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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