The Arctic is continuing to warm at an alarming rate – heating-up twice as fast as the rest of our world, a US-based scientific team have warned. Although this year has not topped the record set in 2012, it did get alarmingly close.
The sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean surrounding the North Pole cyclically melts in summer and freezes again in winter.
However, scientists have been observing how the ice is melting a little more in the warm weather and refreezing slightly less every year.
Reliable data concerning climate change has been obtained via non-stop monitoring of the Arctic area since 1979.
This has revealed this year’s late summer thaw was the second worst year on record after 2012.
And when compared with its highest historical level, half of the sea ice has now disappeared, while what remains is thinner and more fragile.
However, the Report Card 2020 published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also revealed just how complex the changing climate can be.
For example, Alaska’s North Slope experienced its coldest February in 30 years, while areas of Norway have also been colder than usual.
But Siberia set heat records, with temperatures 3C to 5C (5.4F to 9F) warmer than normal, while the Arctic’s surface was 1.9C (3.4F) higher than average, making it the second hottest year on record since 1900.
The Arctic ocean is also warming – the water in August was between 1C and 3C (1.8F and 5.4F) hotter at the surface than the average.
Professor Donald Perovich, of Dartmouth University and co-author of the NOAA report, said: ”One of the things that’s important to realise about the Arctic is it’s a system.
“It’s a system of interconnected components.
“You can change one thing, those changes cascade through the whole system.”
For the climate change scientists, the most shocking event occurred in September 2007, when the summer melt of the sea ice was extreme.
Professor Perovich added: “We never returned to the levels we saw in 2006 or earlier. We’re in this new regime.”
The latest climate change models predict all sea ice will vanish in summer in the Arctic starting from 2040 at the earliest.
When this report was first published in 2006, researchers remained unconvinced of the Arctic heating trend.
Now, those same researchers say “it is anticipated that progressive deep thawing of permafrost in this region may begin in 30 to 40 years.”