The ice-extent data are produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder. A catastrophic marine ecosystem crisis of unimaginable consequences is taking shape. As Earth trudges steadily toward a dangerously warm future, a new report on the outlook for the polar regions says the Arctic is already there—with consequences on the horizon for everyone. And these wildfires could transform the pace, and scope, of global warming in ways that could affect us all. Why the Arctic Matters for Global Warming. Spring plant growth is coming earlier and earlier, meaning tundra animals like the caribou at Post’s Greenland research site arrive at their annual birthing grounds after the plants they eat have passed their nutritional peak. The glacial melt we are witnessing today in Antarctic and Greenland is changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and has been linked to collapse of fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and more … These darker surfances retain a larger part of the solar energy instead of reflecting it back. My Times column on how the Arctic sea ice has melted in late summer before, between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago:. Both polar regions are changing, says co-author Richard Alley, a Penn State glaciologist and Antarctica specialist. Arctic permafrost thaw is also escalating, releasing the potent greenhouse gas methane and spiking atmospheric levels, with profound global warming effects. When he first started working there, hundreds of caribou covered the hills. Documentation can be found here. Post is lead author of the report published today in Science Advances, in which an international group of scientists looks at current and future impacts of polar warming across a range of disciplines. And how does the rising temperature affect the environment, and our lives? A lot of attention has been devoted to sea ice in the Arctic over the last few years, where ice cover has clearly shrunk and thinned since the beginning of the satellite data record in 1978 13 . This is called the albedo effect. Research shows the polar vortex is appearing outside of the Arctic more frequently because of changes to the jet stream, caused by a combination of warming air and ocean temperatures in the Arctic and the tropics. "In a way, the Arctic is speaking to us," say Post. After all, many people linked the accident with the melting of permafrost,” Kobylkin said. Since 1979, the length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice has grown by 37 days (see Figure 3). Melting Arctic sea ice is increasing warming in the region. A snapshot of melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018. The consequences are global, not only from faster heating, but from potential disruption to large-scale features of weather, such as the Northern winter polar vortex. According to a CNN report, the Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the global average causing massive melting of sea ice. The 13 years with the lowest sea-ice area have occurred in the last 13 years. Her latest work suggests that Arctic sea ice is now shrinking faster than most current climate models project. The warming in the Arctic is primarily caused by human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. "There's the potential for big changes that we don't properly understand," she said. Published: 20 Jul 2020 While temperatures are surging in the Arctic—by century’s end, they could soar as much as 23.4 F (13 C) during parts of the year, according to the report—Antarctic warming has been similar to the global average, although some parts are warming much faster. Ice melt is a feedback loop Shiny ice and snow reflect a high proportion of the sun's energy into space. That ice loss fuels Arctic amplification—the force that’s speeding up northern warming. And the Arctic helps to regulate the world’s temperature, so as more Arctic ice melts the warmer our world becomes. Most polar bears to disappear by 2100, study predicts. Arctic tundra lakes spread out across the soggy Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia, Russia. The shifts are accelerating, the report says, and in future could exceed ecosystems’ ability to adapt. “And if it goes into the ocean,” says Alley, “then it's not staying in the air.”. And Antarctica’s penguins, some of which are already having to shift their ranges as coastal conditions change, may face widespread displacement in future. polar regions Why is the Arctic melting faster than the Antarctic? Arctic warming also stands to disrupt the marine food web, increase mortality for polar bears and seals, and threaten the livelihoods of the region’s indigenous people. Arctic ice melt is linked to melting permafrost says a new study The absence of sea ice in the Arctic is closely connected to the melting of permafrost, according to a new study. At the end of summer in 2019, at the time when Arctic sea ice extent reaches its annual minimum, the area covered by Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest level since satellite monitoring began in 1979. Here, in the waters of the Fram Strait, between Svaalbard and Greenland, is where ice comes to die. Melting all the sea ice on Earth would have no direct effect on sea level, while melting all the land ice would have a huge impact on sea level. There are no other significant, current forcing factors but human activities (burning of fossil fuels and cutting forests), so the melting in the Arctic is due to anthropogenic global warming. All rights reserved. “The article makes the point that even with the low emissions scenario—and a 2 degrees C warmer world is down at the low end of the emissions scenario spectrum—the Arctic is a changed place.”. If Arctic ice melt doesn't boost sea levels, do we care? 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The loss of Arctic sea ice is a double whammy. The Arctic is effectively melting due to global warming, which is caused by massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting fossil fuel emissions can lower or delay Arctic warming by several decades, the authors say. “That temperature contrast is responsible for the existence of the jet stream, and when it decreases, the jet stream tends to slow down and weather systems linger longer in the same location,” he says. This can be measured in square kilometers of ice cover, referred to as the sea ice extent. Moreover, the warming Southern Ocean could provide a route for invasive species and diseases to reach the isolated continent. In this installment of the Butterfly Effect, climate change is creating incredible economic opportunity in the Arctic, leading to saber rattling from Canada and Russia. That’s about when the planet as a whole is projected to reach the 3.6 F (2 C) warming often cited as the threshold for disastrous impacts. Art; Photographers Jul 29, 2020. Unlike visible light, microwave radiation given off at the surface can pass through clouds, allowing the satellites to distinguish ice from water. Ice helps cool the Earth by reflecting solar energy back into space. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic accelerate the melting, which result in darker surfaces on the sea and land. If ice shelves in West Antarctica failed, and the Thwaites and other glaciers collapsed, sea levels could rise an additional foot or more by 2100—and a whopping 10 feet or more in the following century if irreversible glacier loss tipping points are crossed. The past two years, however, have seen record autumn lows. ", Warming at the poles will soon be felt globally in rising seas, extreme weather. Its shrinking ice cap is a consequence of warming—and now an accelerator, too. As the Arctic loses snow and ice, bare rock and water absorb more and more of the sun’s energy, making it even warmer. Why this had happened with a reservoir that had been standing for many years, why the crack had appeared. Peeling back that ice cover could also unleash more extreme weather on the Northern Hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, including droughts, floods, and heatwaves. Eric Post has observed seasons at the same location on the West Greenland tundra for 26 years. Nowhere is climate change more obvious than in the Arctic. The Arctic is heating up much more quickly than the rest of the Earth. The Arctic – While the Ice Is M... WHAT WE DO / SERVICES; MEDIA NEWS KLASSIK INTERNATIONAL. The Arctic has warmed at more than twice the global average, causing sea ice at the top of the world to melt faster than scientists had projected. Since 1979, a succession of satellites have collected energy radiated from Arctic sea ice and surrounding water, allowing scientists to assemble maps of ice coverage. By: Eric Roston, Mira Rojanasakul, Paul Murray, Brittany Harris, Demetrios Pogkas and Andre Tartar, With assistance from: Yue Qiu, Dean Halford, Julian Burgess and Lynn Doan. That ice easily breaks away in large chunks (a process known as calving) and melts in the open ocean. Such fires are expected to become more common as the permafrost thaws, then dries out. That ice loss fuels Arctic amplification—the force that’s speeding up northern warming. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the … The polar outlook is a “generally solid assessment of the changes and how they depend on these emissions scenarios,” says University of Alaska-Fairbanks atmospheric scientist John Walsh, who was not involved with the study. Ice helps cool the Earth by reflecting solar energy back into space. “There is a real possibility that we will be entering a phase of accelerated Arctic warming in the next two to four decades if mitigation action isn’t taken soon,” says Post, a climate change ecologist at the University of California, Davis. Jun 25, 2020. Arctic sea ice melts because temperatures have been rising due to global warming. Let me conclude this paper by answering the question asked in the first part of the title by a categorical No, the Arctic is not melting. Feb 25, 2020. Meanwhile, warming is already knocking the Arctic’s seasonal clock off-kilter. Summer sea ice, which has been shrinking more than 10 percent a decade over the past 40 years, is projected to essentially disappear within 20 to 25 years at the current emissions rate. Arctic land ice—particularly the vast ice sheet atop Greenland—is thawing faster than current climate models suggest, and could raise sea levels substantially more than the 3 feet projected by the end of the century in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report released in September. Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world. Data come from the National Snow and Ice Data Center Sea Ice Index. As the Arctic becomes warmer, the global jet stream — massive currents of wind that… “Consequences of recent Arctic warming have already been widespread and pronounced, and yet we haven’t even seen what’s expected to be the most rapid phase of warming,” Post says. Another recent study projects Arctic wildfire intensity doubling each year as thawing ground dries out. Arctic sea ice plays a crucial role in the Earth’s energy balance. There's also less sea ice in the Arctic Ocean because ice has floated into the Atlantic Ocean. (Find out why Earth’s climate systems are heading for dangerous tipping points.). Due to the clear link to their diminishing habitat, polar bears have become the poster children for the direct impact of this lost Arctic sea ice. The climate is certainly changing. A recent report says the Arctic may be ice-free by 2040. A 2019 National Geographic article noted that the planet’s permafrost is melting at a far faster rate than scientists had previously expected. The melting of Greenland's ice sheet is linked to polar amplification. “But it’s not as simple as they all do the same thing. Antarctic sea ice has waxed and waned. The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is approaching its annual nadir. Mann says the phenomenon has been linked with relentless hot spells like the ones that baked Europe this summer, and brutal cold snaps like the recent “Arctic blast” that froze the eastern and midwestern United States., Find out why Earth’s climate systems are heading for dangerous tipping points, the High North is seeing unprecedented changes, essentially disappear within 20 to 25 years, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report released in September, Arctic permafrost thaw is also escalating, knocking the Arctic’s seasonal clock off-kilter. Arctic ice melting The Arctic ice pack is thinning, and a seasonal hole in the ozone layer frequently occurs. The Arctic is melting. Losing reflectivity is bad enough—the ocean around the ice becomes darker and absorbs energy, warming the water and melting more ice. These are the facts: Melting ice speeds up climate change. "That's the thing that that really worries us with West Antarctica,” says Alley. In the meantime, nations around the Arctic rim are busy adapting to the melt. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- The loss of Arctic sea ice is a double whammy. Now, he says, the herd is down to around 90. “You find yourself thinking they’ll be back next spring; numbers will go up again,” Post says, “but year after year goes by and the big groups just aren’t there the way they used to be.”. Ocean currents normally bring in warmer water from the Pacific, and colder water exits out of the Arctic into the Atlantic. One bright note in the outlook: So far whales seem to be benefitting from range expansion as sea ice recedes. Photographer: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images, Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Arctic is regarded as "ground zero for global warming" and Dadic said the sea ice was disappearing fast. Temperatures climbed nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 Celsius) in the past decade alone. Like the Arctic, ice on the southernmost continent is also being eaten away by warming. “I know it's a dangerous thing to say,” says Stroeve, “but at this point, regardless of what we commit to with CO2 reductions, and the warming that we try to limit things to… we will likely see ice-free summers emerging.”. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have developed a new theory aided by computer simulations and observations that helps explain why this occurs. A growing percentage of Arctic sea ice is only one or two years old. by Marlowe Hood ... Siberia heat wave: why the Arctic is warming so much faster than the rest of the world. Wildfires burn near the tundra-taiga transition in Siberia. Flowers open before the insects that pollinate them can get there, and migrating birds miss the spring flush. Greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and trap the sun's heat in the atmosphere, warming the global temperature. The Arctic is warming far more quickly than anywhere else on the planet. 1.3 What causes climate change? At the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the North is on track to warm 7.2 F (4 C) year-round—and top 12.6 F (7 C) in autumns—by the middle of this century, according to the report. But what is causing this change? Researchers find new reason Arctic is warming so fast. One of scientists’ top concerns as the planet warms is the loss of Arctic sea ice. Why Does the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice Matter? “The accelerated Arctic warming impacts weather down here in the lower 48 and around the entire Northern Hemisphere by changing the temperature contrast between mid and high latitudes,” explains co-author Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University atmospheric scientist. We know the Arctic is melting – but it’s also on fire. Summer sea ice this year shrank to its second lowest extent since satellite measurements began in 1979, while record July heat melted billions of tons of ice off the Greenland ice sheet. The melting has caused coastal ice in parts of Canada and Alaska to become quite brittle. The impacts of a warming Arctic will be felt well beyond the high latitudes in the near future, the report warns. Less old multi-year ice implies that the ice cover is thinning, which makes it more vulnerable to further melting. Sea-level rise is another looming concern. Over that time, he’s seen profound changes. The Arctic is not the Antarctic and the Antarctic is not the Arctic.”, Antarctica is surrounded by the vast Southern Ocean, which is soaking up much of the atmosphere’s excess heat. Sea ice is rapidly disappearing as a result of climate change and warming seawater temperatures. Short of artificially producing ice with water pumps or other not-yet-feasible means, there’s no direct fix for the melting Arctic besides arresting the overall release of heat-trapping gases. The Arctic has experienced the warming effects of global climate change faster than any other region on the planet. Wildfires blazed across millions of acres from Alaska to Siberia. Jonathan Bamber, Author provided. Major glaciers—most notably the Florida-sized Thwaites—are rapidly retreating, while the floating ice shelves that hold them in place are thinning above and below. As the ocean’s protective lid thaws, more sunlight enters the water, causing more warming, leading to yet more ice loss, in a feedback spiral. “Warming of the air or ocean can weaken the ice shelves, and beyond some threshold, they tend to break off,” says Alley. Weatherwatch: Melting Arctic ice triggers winter storms, study finds. "The question is whether we are listening. The iconic emperor penguins could all but vanish by the end of the century, another new report projects. By early September each year about two thirds of the ice cap has melted, then the sea begins to freeze again. Co-author Julienne Stroeve, a specialist in remote sensing of the polar regions with the University of Manitoba in Canada and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, thinks Arctic warming may already have pushed summer sea ice past its threshold. While both the Arctic and Antarctic are experiencing rising temperatures, thinning glaciers, disturbed ecosystems, and other alarming shifts as heat-trapping fossil fuel emissions build up, changes are sweeping the northern region far faster. As long as temperatures remain the same as they have been for the last 100 years the Arctic will remain frozen in the long winter months and partly melt during very short summer months. [63] Reduction of the area of Arctic sea ice reduces the planet's average albedo , possibly resulting in global warming in a positive feedback mechanism. Image: US Geological Survey/Flickr. Some put it even sooner. Already, the High North is seeing unprecedented changes, including drastic ice losses on land and sea, galloping permafrost thaw, raging wildfires, unseasonal storms, earlier springs, and more.

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