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Arctic Temperatures Soar

Air temperatures in the Arctic are peaking at an unheard-of 20 degrees Celsius higher than normal for the time of year; international report underscores threats

Sea temperatures are averaging nearly 4 degrees C higher than usual in October and November.* As summarized in The Guardian, the Arctic Resilience Report, a first comprehensive examination of ecosystems and societies in the Arctic identifies 19 “tipping points” in the Arctic region related to warming. These include: “growth in vegetation on tundra, which replaces reflective snow and ice with darker vegetation, thus absorbing more heat; higher releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the tundra as it warms; shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean, resulting in altered climate patterns as far away as Asia, where the monsoon could be affected; and the collapse of some key Arctic fisheries, with knock-on effects on ocean ecosystems around the globe.” ** The
report notes that “The potential effects of Arctic regime shifts [or tipping points] on the rest of the world are substantial, yet poorly understood. Human-driven climate change greatly increases the risk of Arctic regime shifts, so reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to reducing this risk.”***

*John Vidal, “’Extraordinarily hot’ Arctic temperatures alarm scientists,”
Guardian, November 22, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/22/extraordinarily-hot-arctic-temperatures-alarm-scientists
** Fiona Harvey, “Arctic Ice Melt Could Trigger Uncontrollable Climate Change at Global Level,” Guardian, November 25, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/25/arctic-ice-melt-trigger-uncontrollable-climate-change-global-level
*** Marcus Carson et al.), Arctic Resilience Report, Arctic Council, Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm 2016), https://www.sei.org/publications/arctic-resilience-report/

  2016  /  International Policy  /  Last Updated January 6, 2021 by Jon Donnelly  /  Tags: , , , , , ,
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