The Arctic is warming faster than expected

The Arctic is warming faster than expected

The Arctic has warmed almost four times faster than the rest of the world in the past 40 years: These conclusions of a new study raise concerns that climate models for the poles, whose warming has a major impact on sea level rise, are underestimating them.

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The study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment by Nature Group, significantly increases the rate of warming in the region around the North Pole.

In 2019, the United Nations Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that the Arctic was warming “more than twice the global average” due to a specific process in the region.

Dubbed “Arctic amplification,” this phenomenon occurs when sea ice and snow, which naturally reflect the sun’s heat, melt with seawater, which absorbs more solar radiation and warms.

Although scientists have long agreed on the observation of accelerated warming in the Arctic, their assessments of the phenomenon differ depending on the study period or more or less comprehensive definition of the geographical area of ​​the Arctic.

The Arctic is warming faster than expected

In the new study, the Norway- and Finland-based researchers analyzed four sets of temperature data collected from satellites across the Arctic Circle since 1979 – the year satellite data first became available.

They concluded that the Arctic has been warming at an average of 0.75°C per decade, almost four times faster than the rest of the planet.

The planet has already increased by almost 1.2°C since the pre-industrial era due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities, mainly fossil fuels.

“The scientific literature suggests that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, so I was surprised that our conclusion was much higher than the usual number,” Antti Lipponen, a member of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, told AFP Institute and co-author of the study.

However, the study found large local differences in the rate of warming within the Arctic Circle. For example, the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean near Norway’s Svalbard archipelago and Russia’s Novaya Zemlya archipelago has been warming at 1.25°C per decade, about seven times faster than the rest of the world.

melting of the ice cap

The team found that the most advanced climate models predicted Arctic warming to be about a third less than their own data show.

This discrepancy, they believe, could be explained by the obsolescence of previous models of the Arctic climate, which are constantly being improved.

“Perhaps the next step would be to take a look at these models and see why they don’t predict what we see in observations and what implications that has for future climate projections,” Lipponen said.

In addition to severe impacts on residents and local fauna that depend on the continuity of sea ice hunting, the rapid warming of the Arctic will also have global impacts.

The Arctic is warming faster than expected

“Climate change is man-made and as the Arctic warms up, its glaciers will melt, which will affect global sea levels,” Lipponen said. “Something is happening in the Arctic and it will affect us all,” he fears.

The melting of the ice cap is the main cause of sea level rise, ahead of the melting of glaciers and the expansion of the ocean due to warming water. Melting sea ice (ice on the oceans) does not raise sea levels.

According to the IPCC, sea levels have risen by 20 cm since 1900. However , the rate of this increase has almost tripled since 1990 and depending on the scenario , the oceans could gain another 40 to 85 cm by the end of the century . . .

The Greenland ice sheet, which recent studies are nearing melting, contains a quantity of ice water that can raise the Earth’s sea level by up to six meters.