Friday 26 June 2015

Arctic warming

Accelerated Warming in the Arctic

25 June, 2015
Warming in the Arctic is accelerating. On June 25, 2015, high temperatures hit North America. Temperatures as high as 30.3°C (86.54°F) were recorded where the Mackenzie River is flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

High temperatures at such locations are very worrying, for a number of reasons, including:
  • They are examples of heatwaves that can increasingly extend far to the north, all the way into the Arctic Ocean, speeding up warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed and threatening to unleash huge methane eruptions. 
  • They set the scene for wildfires that emit not only greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but also pollutants such as carbon monoxide (that depletes hydroxyl that could otherwise break down methane) and black carbon (that when settling on ice causes it to absorb more sunlight).
  • They cause warming of the water of rivers that end up in the Arctic Ocean, thus resulting in additional sea ice decline and warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed. 
The image below shows increased sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic. Note the warming in the area of the Beaufort Sea where the Mackenzie River is flowing into the Arctic Ocean. 
The image below further illustrates the situation, with sea ice thickness (in m) down to zero where the Mackenzie River flows into the Arctic Ocean and in the Bering Strait where warm water from the Pacific is entering the Arctic Ocean.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.

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