Arctic side course after MEPC 80. IMO a procrastinator


By Marek Grzybowski

The Clean Arctic Alliance expressed surprise that the MEPC 80 Marine Environment Protection Committee did not take decisive action to save the Arctic from the impact of global shipping. Sailors do not seem to be fully aware of the threat posed by the increasingly intensive use of the northern sea routes in trade and tourism.

– The law does not keep up with the realities of the developing maritime transport – said prof. Brodecki during the 11th National Maritime Law Conference organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of MARPOL. There are still ambiguities in defining the term “pollution damage”. And it is in the Arctic and Antarctica that they are visible to the naked eye.

– The law does not keep up with maritime practice and does not support environmental protection – says prof. Zdzisław Brodecki during conferences organized by the Department of Maritime Law and EMSA as well as the Space Sciences Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Gdańsk and the Baltic Maritime and Space Cluster.

Arctic postponed

– In the week of the highest global temperatures on record, IMO Member States had a unique opportunity to show global leadership by limiting the climate and Arctic impact of the shipping sector by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but instead opted for bland and weaker versions of their earlier ambitions said Dr. Sian Prior, chief advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance.

Prior points out that “Worse yet, they also failed to account for smoke [caused by exhaust fumes – MG], which accounts for about a fifth of shipping’s climate impact in the revised greenhouse gas strategy.”

“National governments and regions now urgently need to put in place strong measures to enforce reductions in shipping emissions if we are to stay within the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target,” urges Dr. Sian Prior.

The Arctic is under threat – determined IO PAN Sopot

Recently, Prof. Mirosław Darecki from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Sopot illustrated the threats to the Arctic during the presentation, showing the latest graphs of the reduction of the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets. The “Safe Planet & Space: Letter from Utopia” conference clearly showed the significant reduction of the Arctic ice sheet over the last few decades. The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the world – alarmed prof. Darecki, showing changes recorded by NASA satellites (available at

Why the Arctic is warming up the fastest was explained by prof. Jacek Piskozub from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences after research conducted by a team of scientists during a special program of research on climate change in the Arctic launched in 1987 by a team of the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Sopot conducts regular research in the European Arctic from the board of the research vessel r/v Oceania, and the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw has been in charge of the permanent Polish Polar Station since 1958. Stanisław Siedlecki in Hornsund on Spitsbergen.

Antarctica and the Arctic are melting

In the south of our globe, the melting of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is particularly active. As a result, about 4% of global sea level rise is caused by this phenomenon. It is the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica.

Recently, scientists determined that the reason for such rapid melting is not only climate change and contact with warmer ocean waters, but also geothermal heat. The heat from the glacier’s bedrock is one of the established causes of the melting of the Thwaites Glacier, according to researchers in Nature Communications Earth & Environment.

Black carbon on the glacier
Particularly dangerous for the Arctic is soot. Although it is a short-term air pollutant, it is caused by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, the impact of which is more than three thousand times greater than that of CO2 over a 20-year period. It accounts for about a fifth of the climate impact of international shipping, according to Clean Shipping Coalition experts.

Black carbon deposited on ice and snow not only contributes to warming, but accelerates the melting of snow and ice.
Melting snow and ice expose darker areas of land and water, and these dark parts absorb the sun’s heat, reducing the reflectivity of the planet’s polar ice caps significantly.

Albedo will cause a crisis

More heat in the polar zones results in increased melting. This is the loss of the albedo effect. It consists in the fact that each surface has a specific ability to reflect radiation. It is expressed by the ratio of the amount of radiation reflected from a surface in all directions to the amount of radiation incident on it.

“The decline in the extent and volume of sea ice is leading to a growing social and environmental crisis in the Arctic, while abrupt changes in the environment affect global climate and ocean circulation,” the Clean Shipping Coalition alerts.

The Arctic is melting the Earth

Again, we should refer to the research results of scientists from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prof. Piskozub states that “in addition to eccentricity and precession, the phenomenon affecting changes in the illumination of the polar regions are changes in the inclination of the Earth’s axis.

The current value of this tilt – 23.5 degrees – lies in the middle of its variability (with a cycle of about 41 thousand years) from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees. When the Earth is tilted more, the illumination of the polar regions in the summer is greater.