The Arctic Just Received Its Annual Report Card, And It’s Not Good

2016-12-16T08:14:20+00:00 December 16, 2016|
Arctic sea ice as seen from satellite images (Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr)

(Click to enlarge) Arctic sea ice as seen from satellite images (Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr)

The world’s air conditioner is on the fritz. Unprecedented, record-breaking warmth in the Arctic this year triggered declines in sea ice, snow, the Greenland ice sheet and a remarkable delay in the annual freeze of sea ice in the fall.

(From USA Today / by Doyle Rice)– Overall, the Arctic experienced its warmest year ever recorded.

“Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic research program, which released its annual Arctic Report Card on Tuesday.

Even more worrisome: The trends are deepening and show no signs of letting up anytime soon. “All signs point to continuing on this trajectory,” Mathis said.

Changes in Arctic climate have now seeped into the winter months, instead of just the summer, Mathis said. “It’s not just the loss of sea ice in the summer, it’s year-round now,” he said.

It’s not hard to pinpoint a cause of the changes: The Arctic environmental system continues to be influenced by long-term upticks in global carbon dioxide and air temperatures, in addition to natural seasonal and regional variability, the report said. Natural factors would include El Niño, for instance, which did play some of a role this year.

The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas releases carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases have warmed the planet to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors alone, scientists say.

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