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ARCTIC

Scientists to make 3-D models of Arctic sea ice

Scientists working with Greenpeace will undertake an expedition to the Arctic that will produce the first 3D models of the Arctic sea ice, the group said on Friday.

The team was due to leave on Friday for the icy north from the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

"Starting on July 9th, scientists led by Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University will work together with 3D scanning experts and engineers to capture the true shape of Arctic sea ice for the first time," Greenpeace said in a statement.

Scientists will use a special submarine vehicle to measure underwater icebergs and surface laser scanners for the exposed parts.

The finished model will pinpoint pressure ridges and deformations resulting from the repeated melting and freezing of the ice.

"The emphasis on pressure ridges is because these ice deformation features — which can be as much as 50 metres deep — contain about half of the ice in the Arctic, yet have been shrinking in numbers and thickness much faster than the ice as a whole," said Wadhams.

"We need to see if they are melting, or disintegrating, or both."

Greenpeace will also use the exhibition to draw attention to its Save The Arctic campaign, launched on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Earth summit last week to preserve the land mass from oil exploration and industrial fishing.

A number of celebrities including actors Hugh Grant and Penelope Cruz, entrepreneur Richard Branson and singer Paul McCartney have already signed a petition which will be placed at the North Pole.

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ENVIRONMENT

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas

Norway will not grant new oil exploration licences in virgin or little-explored areas in 2022 under a political compromise on Monday that hands a modest  victory to opponents of fossil fuels.

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas
A photo taken on August 30, 2021 shows the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, Norway, built to show the history of Norway's oil exploration. Norway is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in Western Europe. In the face of the climate emergency, voices are being raised to abandon fossil fuels for good. Petter BERNTSEN / AFP

The Scandinavian country’s governing centre-left coalition supports continuing oil and gas activities but does not have a parliamentary majority, making it reliant on socialist MPs who prioritise green issues.

As part of a compromise on the draft 2022 budget, three parties agreed on Monday that Norway — Western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer — would not hold a 26th so-called “ordinary” concession round next year.

This mechanism has allowed oil companies to apply for exploration in previously unexplored areas of the Norwegian continental shelf since 1965.

But the deal does not rule out awarding oil licences in already heavily exploited areas.

Since the North Sea has been extensively explored, the agreement mainly concerns the Barents Sea in the Arctic

The oil industry was a major issue in legislative elections in September, indicating Norway’s growing difficulties in reconciling environmental concerns with exploiting energy resources.

In the 25th concession round in early 2021, only seven oil companies, including Equinor, Shell and Lundin, applied — the lowest number since at least 1978 according to local media.

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