The annual Arctic Report Card, which was released yesterday, reveals a rather grim situation at the North pole with increasing temperatures and substantial sea ice decline.
According to the report, the year 2016 has been a bad one for the average Arctic temperatures as the temperatures over the land mass in the Arctic region reached its highest point in the observational record, a 3.5°C increase since 1900. The report card – the 11th in the series – was released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The report notes that sustained Arctic warmth and ice decline go hand in hand and with that into consideration, the snow cover as well as sea ice cover were at their lowest this spring. The report card also notes that the Greenland ice sheet continues to lose its mass this year. Further, sea surface temperature in August was 5°C above the 1982–2010 average in the Barents and Chukchi seas and off of Greenland’s east and west coasts. Thanks to melting ice there was a bumper Arctic Ocean productivity by springtime.
Melting ice is one problem, but the inability of the North Pole to regrow its ice is yet another problem. Warmer weather means that the ice doesn’t regrow and this effectively leads to more melting of ice and hence pose a major risk to global sea ice levels.
Scientists point out that next year there will be greater melting across the board at the North Pole with the region having already cross the threshold. With changing conditions at the Arctic, there will be repercussions across the globe starting with the regions closer to the polar region presenting both challenges as well as opportunities.
Scientists who have studied the report car have said that the conditions at the Arctic are not only worrisome, but are likely irreversible and that there is an urgent need for bringing about massive changes in how we proceed in every aspect of our lives from now on.
With increasing temperatures, there will be opportunities for the region as well with opening of new avenues including resource development, commercial shipping, and tourism.
All in all, the report car puts in front of us a scientific background based on which we can develop responsible adaptation strategies that will help us in the short as well as long run. Check out the video below: