Arctic warms four times faster than the rest of the planet

The Arctic Circle region has warmed at a rate four times faster than the rest of the planet over the past 40 years, according to a report published on Thursday that warns that the phenomenon is deeper than previously believed. previously.

Until now, scientists calculated that this higher percentage of warming, known as “Arctic amplification”, was between two and three times greater than on the rest of the planet.

That was the conclusion of the UN climate expert group (IPCC) in its latest 2019 report.

The icy surface of the arctic region partially reflects the sun’s rays (the albedo effect), but with this accelerated warming, caused by climate change, the ice is melting.

Melting ice absorbs heat rather than giving it back. And the excess water (coming from the continental and insular regions of the Polar Circle) goes to the oceanic mass.

A team of experts in Norway and Finland analyzed temperature data collected via satellite since 1979 in the region.

The Arctic has been warming an average of 0.75ºC every decade, four times more than the rest of the planet, say these scientists in the study published in the scientific portal Communications Earth&Environment.

“Until now, the belief was that the Arctic was warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, so I was a little surprised when our data was much higher,” said Antti Lipponen, co-author of the study and a fellow at the Meteorological Institute. Finnish.

There are differing opinions in the scientific community about the exact boundaries of the region, which includes the Arctic Ocean and the continental mass, and about the periods that are taken as a basis for study.

Significant variations

Data published on the website shows significant regional variations within the Arctic Circle.

The Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean, near the archipelagos of Svalbard (Norway) and Nova Zembla (Russia), has warmed up to 1.25º C per decade, seven times more than the rest of the world.

The most advanced models so far predicted warming that was one-third less than detected.

These climate prediction models in the region are evolving, the scientists explained.

“Maybe the next step is to reanalyze these models. I’d like to know why the models don’t reproduce what we observed and what impact this has on future projections,” Lipponen said.

Warming in the Arctic region has a profound impact on local communities and wildlife such as polar bears.

Melting in Greenland is approaching a point of no return, according to some studies.

This mass of ice contains enough water to raise sea levels by up to six meters across the planet.

“Climate change is caused by humans. As the Arctic warms, its glaciers will melt and this will affect sea levels globally,” Lipponen explained.

“Something is happening in the Arctic and it will affect us all,” he added.

According to the IPCC, sea levels have risen by 20 cm since 1900 and the phenomenon has been accelerating since the 1990s.

Climate change has already caused an increase in the average temperature of the planet of 1.1º C compared to the pre-industrial era.

The 2015 Paris climate agreement adopted during COP21 aimed to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

However, according to the World Meteorological Organization, with the commitments adopted so far, the rise in temperatures should be between 2.5 and 3 degrees.

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