For the last week Britain has been encircled by a gigantic loop in the jet stream, the result of which has been some remarkably wet weather for the east of the country. While welcome for places that had been suffering a long drought, it is a stark warning of weather patterns to come.
In September, the giant German polar research vessel Polarstern will set off from Tromsø in Norway on a remarkable voyage. It will sail across the Arctic Ocean and after a few weeks reach a point off the Siberian coast, around 85 deg N 120 deg E, where it will attach itself to the biggest, strongest-looking ice floe its crew can find.
One of the principal concerns of a warming Arctic is the thawing of carbon-rich permafrost, which could release CO2 and methane into the atmosphere and accelerate climate change. However, the thawing of these perennially frozen soils also risks making a mark on the land surface itself, causing landslides known as “retrogressive thaw slumps”.