Arctic Temperatures Still Rising

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December 18, 2016

Temperatures continue to climb in the Arctic region, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, U.S. Government scientists said.

The annual air temperature over land in the Arctic was 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in 1900, the first year of measurement, according to a peer-reviewed report by the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As well, sea surface temperatures were 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the Barents Sea and the Chukchi Sea.

The findings were part of the NOAA's annual Arctic Report Card, which covered the period from October 2016 to September 2016. The report was reviewed by 61 scientists around the world. The warmer temperatures resulted in lower amounts of multi-year ice, which is water frozen for more than one year before thawing and is less likely to melt quickly. The report for 1985–2016 found that in that year, 45 percent of sea ice in the Arctic was multi-year ice. The report just issued found multi-year ice to be 22 percent of the total.

Findings from Greenland found that melting started earlier than all but one of the years on record. As a result, Greenland's ice sheet continued to lose mass, as has happened each year that satellite measurements were taken.

Snow cover in the North American Arctic fell below 1.5 million square miles for the first time since measurements began.

Scientists have already seen changes in animal and plant behavior as a result of the warming temperatures.

As for the cause of the warming, the report found probable causes to be the burning of fossils, producing heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, and an El Niño that ended in mid-2016.

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