Arctic Report Shows Changes Scientists Didn’t Expect ‘This Soon’

Arctic Report Shows Changes Scientists Didn’t Expect ‘This Soon’

The clearest sign of Arctic change are rising temperatures. The average temperature over the past 12 months ranked as the second-highest value since 1900 coming in at 1.9 degrees Celsius (3.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal. That’s helping melt Arctic sea ice cover, which has seen rapid declines in thickness and extent. The fragile state of ice leaves it vulnerable to random weather happenings, such as when the jetstream sends warm southerly winds north. That’s exactly what happened this past year, particularly in Alaska when unusual southwestern warm winds in fall 2018 kept sea ice from freezing in along the coastal Bering Sea. This happened again in winter 2019 and continued into the spring.

“In the past when that happened, it hasn’t had a big impact because the ice is already there and very thick,” James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA who worked on this report, told Earther. “This year, you started with thin ice, so when winds shifted around to coming from the south and bringing more warm temperatures, the ice could never form, and that was a huge change that we never expected would happen this soon
.”

As a result of all this warm air—which was related to the wild ass heatwaves Europe saw this year—the Greenland ice sheet a massive meltdown over the summer. The only year worse was 2012. This presents a long-term concern for sea level rise worldwide, but the loss of sea ice throughout the Arctic threatens the culture and livelihoods of the people who live there. And, for the first time ever, the Arctic Report Card pays special attention to the impacts indigenous people face. It even includes a whole section featuring voices from the frontlines. Overland said that was intentional.

via earther.gizmodo Arctic Report Shows Changes Scientists Didn’t Expect ‘This Soon’