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Arctic sea ice thaw may be accelerated by oil, shipping

Urgent need to calculate risks of local pollutants in the Arctic Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say.The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said there was an urgent need to calculate risks of local pollutants such as soot, or "black carbon", in the Arctic. Soot darkens ice, making it soak up more of the sun's heat and quickening a melt.Companies such as Shell, which this week gave up a push to find oil this year in the Chukchi Sea as the winter closed in, Exxon or Statoil say they are using the cleanest available technologies.But the risks of even small amounts of pollution on the Arctic Ocean, emitted near ice with little dispersal by winds, have not been fully assessed."A lot of the concerns need urgent evaluation," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman of Naibori-based UNEP, referring to issues such as flaring of gas or fuels used by vessels in the Arctic."There is a grim irony here that as the ice melts...humanity is going for more of the natural resources fuelling this meltdown," ...

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