3 min read

Arctic is Warming Faster than Previously Reported

New research indicates the Arctic is heating up nearly four times faster than the average across the rest of the Earth.
Arctic is Warming Faster than Previously Reported

The rapid warming of the Arctic, a definitive sign of climate change, is occurring even faster than previously described, researchers in Finland said Thursday. Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the two to three times that has commonly been reported, according to The New York Times.

Arctic Warming Is Happening Faster Than Described, Analysis Shows (The New York Times)

Excerpt from The New York Times: One result of rapid Arctic warming is faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which adds to sea-level rise. But the impacts extend far beyond the Arctic, reaching down to influence weather like extreme rainfall and heat waves in North America and elsewhere. By altering the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, the warming Arctic appears to have affected storm tracks and wind speed in North America. Manvendra K. Dubey, an atmospheric scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and an author of an earlier study with similar findings, said the faster rate of warming of the Arctic was worrisome, and points to the need to closely monitor the region. "One has to measure it much better, and all the time, because we are at the precipice of many tipping points, like the complete loss of Arctic sea ice in summers."
Embed from Getty Images

The findings are a reminder that the people, plants and animals in polar regions are experiencing rapid, and disastrous, climate change, writes NPR. "The Arctic is more sensitive to global warming than previously thought," says Mika Rantanen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, who is one of the authors of the study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

The Arctic is heating up nearly four times faster than the whole planet, study finds (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: Scientists previously estimated that the Arctic is heating up about twice as fast as the globe overall. The new study finds that is a significant underestimate of recent warming. In the last 43 years, the region has warmed 3.8 times faster than the planet as a whole, the authors find. The study focuses on the period between 1979, when reliable satellite measurements of global temperatures began, and 2021. There have been hints in recent years that the Arctic is heating up even more quickly than computer models predicted. Heat waves in the far North have driven wildfires and jaw-dropping ice melt in the circumpolar region that includes Alaska, Arctic Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Siberia. "This will probably be a bit of a surprise, but also kind of extra motivation perhaps," says Richard Davy, a climate scientist at Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, who was not involved in the new study. "Things are moving faster than we could have expected from the model projections."
Embed from Getty Images

WIRED reports that scientists have a good handle on what's causing the overall Arctic warming. Essentially, as more sea ice melts, it exposes darker waters, which absorb more of the sun’s energy, further accelerating the melt.  Sea ice has a very high “albedo,” meaning it reflects a lot of the sun’s radiation. But the underlying seawater has a low albedo, meaning it absorbs that energy. So as that ice melts, the albedo of the Arctic decreases, raising temperatures, which melts more ice. It’s a vicious circle.

Why the Arctic Is Warming 4 Times as Fast as the Rest of Earth (WIRED)

Excerpt from WIRED: Those underlying warming processes, known as Arctic amplification, are indeed happening. But their rate is far more catastrophic than scientists first understood. Thanks to a torrent of temperature data, by late 2021 researchers were estimating that the region is actually warming more than four times faster than the rest of Earth, with huge consequences for the whole planet. That means that the scientific community and policymakers have been referring to figures that are far too low. “A lot of papers have been citing this figure of two times greater warming in the Arctic than the rest of the planet for a long time,” says climate scientist Lily Hahn, who studies the mechanisms of Arctic amplification at the University of Washington but wasn’t involved in the work. “So it's nice to finally update this using the most up-to-date observations.”
Embed from Getty Images

Jump to this week's edition of:
World News
US News