CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS

The Arctic Heats Up Even As Much Of The World Ignores It

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The human race in general may have finally accepted that Climate Change is real, but they need to stop looking in more temperate and equatorial regions for early warning signs. The best place to find those is instead in the arctic.

Last week the U.S. National Oceanographic and Aerospace Administration released its Arctic report card, an annual evaluation of the state of the climate, seas, and all living things in the Arctic as of year-end 2015.

The results were not pretty. As samplings for just some of the data:

  • The extent of sea ice reached its maximum level on February 25th, a full 15 days earlier than average and the lowest value on record since 1979.
  • Sea ice also reached its minimum level back in September and was the fourth lowest ever.
  • Snow cover in June was the second lowest on record.
  • Melting occurred over more than 50% of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
  • Air temperatures from October 2014 through September 2015 exceeded 3 degrees C above average over major regions in the arctic.
So – while we in the rest of the world keep looking at rising sea levels, changing rain and drought patterns, and increased temperatures that make our own lives less bearable – and while we look around us to how to mitigate that change in the more temperature and equatorial regions of the world – the arctic is already suffering far worse impacts.

Walruses, Polar Bears, and other mammals who live around sea ice are losing their habitats as the air grows warmer around them, both on the land and in the availability of sea ice. Also, fish communities which are dependent on cold ice ecosystems are being driven further and further north as that sea ice disappears, which in turn puts more pressure on the fish already present where those sea-borne immigrants are now appearing. Together these kinds of changes are already reshuffling the deck for how the world, its habitats, and those who inhabit them are going to look even as close at hand as five years from now.

The reality is that both air and sea temperatures in the arctic are warming at a rate twice as anywhere else in the world, according to experts involved in preparing this most recent analysis. While we may not see the same direct temperature changes elsewhere, the impacts, in the form of changing ecosystems of fish, mammals, birds and more – and in the form of rising sea water levels throughout the world, are going to hit all of us in a much bigger way in the near future.

Those interested in learning more about the 2015 Arctic Report Card can read the information in its entirety at: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard.

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