CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ICE STATION ZEBRA: VANISHING ARCTIC ICE

 

ICE STATION ZEBRA: VANISHING ARCTIC ICE

Two months ago, Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson was invited to the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, a temporary camp built out of plywood on Arctic sea ice. Far north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the camp housed a couple dozen members of the British, Canadian, and U.S. navies and employees of the Applied Physics Laboratory. Jackson spent two days at the camp, watching its residents conduct tests on underwater and under-ice communications and sonar technologies. He kept his camera equipment warm and functional with chemical hand warmers whenever possible. Collected here are some chilly images from Jackson's trip to the far north last March.

NASA images showing the difference between sea ice cover between 1980 and 2012.

The world will be a different place - just like the world from 3, or even 13, million years ago. No longer will the bright white parasol on the top of the world reflect sunlight and keep the Arctic cool. Dark seawater will absorb light and rapid Arctic warming will quickly decrease temperature gradients between the pole and equator. Jet streams will slow down, meander and change tracks. Storms will change in location, intensity, frequency, and speed and everything that humans know about weather and seasons for growing food will be obsolete. Everything.
Higher global temperatures will cause more evaporation, putting more water vapor into the atmosphere. Condensing into clouds, huge amounts of heat will be released, fueling even larger and more frequent storms.
Throw out the models that project disturbing climate effects in 2100. They're happening now! Already we're seeing rising sea levels from the massive and accelerating Greenland ice melt. The rapid warming of southern oceans is melting and destabilizing Antarctic ice from below, causing enormous chunks to break off (we’ve all seen them on TV). And big increases in Arctic temperatures mean terrestrial permafrost is melting and the now-warmer continental shelf sea floor is releasing increasing amounts of methane gas, a potent climate change gas.
Why is the sea ice getting hammered? Feedback loops. Unknown unknowns. A very rare cyclone churned up the entire Arctic region for over a week in early August, destroying 20% of the ice area by breaking it into tiny chunks, melting it, or spitting it into the Atlantic. Cold fresh surface water from melted sea ice mixed with warm salty water from a 500 metre depth! Totally unexpected. A few more cyclones with similar intensity could have eliminated the entire remaining ice cover. Thankfully that didn't happen. What did happen was Hurricane Leslie tracked northward and passed over Iceland as a large storm. It barely missed the Arctic this time. Had the storm tracked 500 to 600 kilometres westward, Leslie would have churned up the west coast of Greenland and penetrated directly into the Arctic Ocean basin.

The moon rises over Arctic ice near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

 

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Equipment packed for an assignment to the Arctic, arranged on a table in the living room of Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson, in New York, on March 16, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A pilot uses GPS coordinates to plot a course to the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in this March 18, 2011 picture. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A road and the Trans Alaska Pipeline run past a mountain in northern Alaska, on March 17, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Steam rises from seawater through a crack in the Arctic ice near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Buildings making up the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on Arctic ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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The sun sets over Arctic ice near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station in this March 18, 2011 picture. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A helicopter moves a remote warming station near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A man walks towards snow machines past the plywood hutches and tents that make up the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station (APLIS) employee Hector Castillo, near the 2011 APLS camp north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A man carries an ice auger to a remote warming station near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Wind patterns are left in the ice pack that covers the Arctic Ocean north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A close-up view of ice crystals at the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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The sun sets over Arctic ice near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A helicopter flies over Arctic ice towards the Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station during an exercise near the 2011 APLIS camp, in this March 18, 2011 picture. Using a digital "Deep Siren" tactical messaging system and a simpler underwater telephone, officials from the Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory at the camp were able to help the USS New Hampshire submarine find a relatively ice-free spot to surface and evacuate a sailor stricken with appendicitis. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A man urinates into a box as the sun sets over Arctic ice near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, in this March 18, 2011 picture. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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APLIS employees wait for a meal inside the mess tent at the 2011 APLIS camp, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Cables for sonar equipment lead into a hole that has been cut through the Arctic ice at the APLIS camp north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. The new digital "Deep Siren" tactical messaging system built by Raytheon Co could revolutionize how military commanders stay in touch with submarines all over the world, allowing them to alert a submarine about an enemy ship on the surface or a new mission, without it needing to surface to periscope level, or 60 feet, where it could be detected by potential enemies. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Workers use a radio to verify their position after delivering supplies to a remote warming station near the 2011 APLIS camp, in this March 18, 2011 picture. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A helicopter drops off supplies at a remote warming station near the 2011 APLIS camp, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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U.S. Navy graduate school researchers Lieutenant Brandon Schmidt (right) and Lieutenant George Suh use a computer to listen to sonar equipment during experiments at the APLIS camp, on March 20, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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U.S. Under Secretary of Defense, Robert Hale, surveys ice structures in the Arctic near the 2011 APLIS camp north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Ice forms on the back of the camera of Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson while working near the APLIS camp in the Arctic, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A plane takes off from an ice runway near the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station to return to Prudhoe Bay, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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The Seawolf class submarine USS Connecticut begins to rise after breaking through several feet of Arctic sea ice during an exercise near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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An APLIS employee carries a shotgun as he guards against polar bears near the Seawolf-class submarine USS Connecticut after the boat surfaced through through Arctic sea ice, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A US Navy sailor on the bridge of the Seawolf class submarine USS Connecticut after it surfaced through Arctic sea ice, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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APLIS employee Keith Magness uses a chainsaw to cut through ice to access the hatches of the Seawolf class submarine USS Connecticut after it surfaced through Arctic sea ice during an exercise near the 2011 APLS camp, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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U.S. Navy sailors watch their sonar screens as they work in the control room of the Virginia class submarine USS New Hampshire as the ship participates in exercises underneath ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 20, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A sign stating the status of a torpedo tube hangs on a hatch in the Virginia class submarine USS New Hampshire as the ship participates in exercises underneath ice in the Arctic Ocean, on March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A fiber-optic periscope display in the control room shows a shore party relaxing on the ice, waiting for the Virginia class submarine USS New Hampshire to surface as the ship participates in exercises underneath ice in the Arctic Ocean, on March 20, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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A congressional delegation and the Secretary of the Navy walk around the Seawolf class submarine USS Connecticut after the boat surfaced through through Arctic sea ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on March 18, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #

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Wind patterns are left in the ice pack that covers the Arctic Ocean north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Melting Glaciers, Joe Raedle’s photographs from Greenland

 

“Climate change is here. We can deny it or we can study it and try to work on ways to understand it,” Getty photographer Joe Raedle explains. Normally, Raedle can be found working in the center of conflicts like the 2011 revolution in Libya where he was captured and imprisoned for 4 days shortly before fellow photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed there. However, Raedle was struck by the destruction caused by a different kind of disaster in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern U.S. coast. In the wake of the flooding and large-scale devastation caused by the storm, Raedle decided to pitch a story on climate change. “One reason I pitched it was because it wasn’t something I was normally doing. It was very exciting. I didn’t know what to expect,” Raedle notes. In July 2013, Raedle traveled to Greenland for three and a half weeks to photograph the melting glaciers and the environmental research going on in the ice-covered country. With help from the National Science Foundation, Raedle spent ten days with researchers photographing everything from remote research camps and underground pits to frozen lakes and vast snow canyons. “It was a beautiful moment to be in that environment where people are trying to understand what is going on and really appreciate the land we walk on.” Raedle spent the remainder of his time with locals in Greenland, even taking a boat ride over two hours long to attend a wedding in a remote village. Adapting to change is nothing new for native Greenlanders and the melting glaciers have actually brought new resources and opportunities to the area, Raedle discovered. “I thought I was just going to this giant glacier, but there is a whole vibrant country there. It was much more lively and modern than I expected.”

 

08252013 - Joe Raedle in Greenland

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A man walks through the village on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate, researchers are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A fishing boat is seen near homes on July 19, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Fisherman, Inunnguaq Petersen, hunts for seal as he waits for fish to catch on the line he put out near icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 22, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Water is seen on part of the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland on July 17, 2013. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Sarah Das from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution looks at a canyon created by a meltwater stream on July 16, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. She is part of a team of scientists that is using Global Positioning System sensors to closely monitor the evolution of the surface lakes and the motion of the surrounding ice sheet. As the sea levels around the globe rise researchers affiliated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the city's capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Year-round monitoring of key climate variables are conducted to study air-snow interactions at this scientific research station seen on July 11, 2013 on the Summit Station, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Tents where researchers live are seen at Summit Station on July 11, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Professor David Noone from the University of Colorado uses a snow pit to study the layers of ice in the glacier at Summit Station on July 11, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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The front side of a glacier is seen on July 10, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Icebergs float in the water on July 17, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate, researchers from the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Icebergs float in the water near the shore on July 17, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Ottilie Olsen and Adam Olsen (L) pose for a picture on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate, researchers are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Newlyweds, Adam Olsen (L) and Ottilie Olsen kiss as they stand on chairs on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A beaded pin of two newlyweds is seen on a dinner plate on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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People watch as fireworks are launched during a wedding party on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate, researchers from the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Bottles of alcohol in a bar are seen reflected in the window overlooking homes on July 28, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland. Nuuk, the capital of the country of about 56,000 people, is where the government is trying to balance the discovery of minerals and other new opportunities brought on by climate change with the old ways of doing things. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Ships are seen among the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier as the sun reaches its lowest point of the day on July 23, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affiliated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water on July 30, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Potato farmer Arnaq Egede looks out the front window of her home on July 31, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. The farm, the largest in Greenland, has seen an extended crop-growing season due to climate change. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what they've always done: adapt. "We're used to change," said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. "We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, we'll just get more land." (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Fishermen gather to chat as they work near icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 23, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water on July 30, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Air bubbles are seen in a puddle of surface melt in the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland on July 15, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Graduate Student, Laura Stevens, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution walks past a meltwater lake on July 16, 2013 on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland. Stevens and a group of scientists set up Global Positioning System sensors to closely monitor the evolution of the surface lakes and the motion of the surrounding ice sheet. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Water is seen on part of the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland on July 17, 2013. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A glacier is seen on July 12, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A child cools off in the cold water on a warm summer day on July 28, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland, the capital of the country of about 56,000 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Laundry is hung to dry between homes on July 19, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Drying fish hang from a wall on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Pilu Nielsen uncovers some of the potatoes growing in the family's potato patch on July 30, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Even though this summer has not been as warm as last year, the climate change has extended crop growing season. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Arnaq Egede stands among the plants on her family's potato farm on July 31, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. The farm, the largest in Greenland, has seen an extended crop growing season due to climate change. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Ottilie Olsen pours a drink on July 20, 2013 in Qeqertaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Makkak Nielsen cooks dinner in her kitchen on the family's potato and sheep farm on July 30, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Even though this summer has not been as warm as last year, the climate change has extended crop growing season. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Potato farmer Arnaq Egede stands on the front steps of her home on July 31, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. The farm, the largest in Greenland, has seen an extended crop growing season due to climate change. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Pilu Nielsen plays with one of his dogs on the family's potato and sheep farm on July 30, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Even though this summer has not been as warm as last year, the climate change has extended crop growing season. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A Musk Ox and other parts of dead animals are seen on the ground on July 10, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Blooming flowers are seen near the glacial ice toe on July 14, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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The surface of a glacier is seen on July 10, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A glacier is seen on July 13, 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affiliated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A barren landscape is seen on July 30, 2013 near Qaqortoq, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Newly constructed apartment buildings are seen built into the barren landscape on July 28, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland, the capital of Greenland of about 56,000 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Construction cranes are seen as new apartment buildings are built into the mountains on July 29, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland, the capital of the country of about 56,000 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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People wait for the bus on July 28, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Women are seen in the center of the business district in Nuuk, Greenland on July 27, 2013. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Premier Aleqa Hammond, the leader of Greenland's Parliament, shops for food in the grocery store on July 29, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland. Premier Hammond has said, "Climate change is one of the major issues that we're dealing with in the political Greenland, in the cultural Greenland and in the business sector of Greenland. Climate change is not only a bad thing for Greenland. Climate change has resulted in many other new options for Greenland." (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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A youngster wears barbie doll rollerblades as she skates on the street on July 18, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Children enjoy themselves at a playground on July 27, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland, the capital of the country of about 56,000 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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People walk past a painting on the wall of a building on July 18, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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People watch as local soccer teams play on July 18, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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The village of Ilulissat is seen near icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 24, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers are studying the melting glaciers and the resulting long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

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Karl Frederik Sikemsen takes down the flag on his daily rounds on July 29, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland. Nuuk, the capital of the country of about 56,000 people, is where the government is trying to balance new opportunities brought on by climate change with the old ways of doing things. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

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