In spite of recent stillness in the evolution of global warming, the annual average temperature in the Arctic is still on the rise, according to a recent study focused on conditions above 60 degrees north latitude.
This report, entitled “The Arctic Report Card 2014” was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It states that the air and sea temperature measured in the Arctic are continuously rising, at twice the rate of global air temperatures. As a result, the oceanic summer ice and the snow cover on land are slowly but surely diminishing.
According to the study, the snow layer stretching across the Arctic, more precisely in the Arctic’s Eurasian region, has set a new record low in April. The recorded value was lower than the long-term mean calculated between the years 1981 and 2010.
Furthermore, sea surface temperatures are also increasing, especially in the Chukchi Sea region in the northwest of Alaska. Regional values are rising at a rate of approximately one degree Fahrenheit in every 10 years.
According to Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, this rise in temperature affects not only the regional environment and the local inhabitants but also the global security, trade and climate.
The study showed that the decrease in sea ice had a direct outcome on the polar bear population in western Hudson Bay in Canada from 1987 to 2011. Sea ice is used by these animals to help them travel, hunt and mate. It can also be used as a shelter.
Following a 40 % decline since 2001, results indicated that in the southern area of the Beaufort Sea, polar bear numbers became stable. In comparison, in the Chukchi Sea, the reproductive rates and conditions for polar bears have been stable for 20 years, due to less severe sea ice decline.
As a result of global warming throughout the last 30 years, Arctic regions started becoming greener and warmer. This has been seen especially in the tundra, as a result of a longer growing season.
Craig McLean, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, stated that decrease in ice sea levels extended economic activities such as shipping, fishing and oil exploration. In addition to that, long stretches of remote coastlines have opened. These areas must now be patrolled by the Coast Guard, as naval traffic across the Arctic increases.
Many scientists believe that by the end of this century, ice could completely disappear from the Arctic surface whilst others think this could happen even sooner.
Image Source: University of Washington