Friday, October 22, 2010

Arctic climate warming at unprecedented rate due to Global Warming

A new reportcard for 2010 highlights record temperatures across Canadian Arctic and Greenland, reduced summer sea ice cover, and record snow cover decreases, indicating rapid global warming in the arctic polar region.



The report card was produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the US Department of Commerce, and tracks recent environmental changes, with 18 essays on different parts of the environment, written by a team of 69 international authors, and supported by 176 scientific references. The report card has been produced on an annual basis since 2006.



Highlights of the report include:

* Greenland experienced record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss by melting, and marine-terminating glacier area loss.
* summer sea ice continues to decline with 2010 being the third lowest ever recorded with the loss of thick multi-year ice in the Beaufort Sea;
* Arctic snow cover duration set a record minimum since records began in 1966
* increases in atmospheric temperature in the Arctic in autumn is contributing to atmospheric circulation changes between the Arctic and mid-latitudes - such as the Artctic Oscillation experienced winter 2009/2010;
* increased uptake of CO2 - ocean acidification - in surface waters of the Canada Basin affecting calcification of marine organisms;
* Glaciers and ice caps in Arctic Canada are continuing to lose mass at a rate that has been increasing since 1987;
* a general increase in permafrost temperatures with a significant acceleration in the warming of permafrost at many Arctic coastal locations during the last five years;
* ecosystem changes that will affect biodiversity with some species being winners and others losers as the arctic climate changes and sub arctic species move further north.

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said "Beyond affecting the humans and wildlife that call the area home, the Arctic's warmer temperatures and decreases in permafrost, snow cover, glaciers and sea ice also have wide-ranging consequences for the physical and biological systems in other parts of the world. The Arctic is an important driver of climate and weather around the world and serves as a critical feeding and breeding ground that supports globally significant populations of birds, mammals and fish."

Greenland Ice sheet Loss

The rate of glacier loss this year appears to be increasing with marine-terminating glaciers in Greenland losing about 419 km2, 3.4 times that of the previous 8 years, indicating that predications of sea level rise may need to be revised upwards according to Jason Box, a glaciologist at Ohio State University.

The article on Greenland said "The largest recorded glacier area loss observed in Greenland occurred this summer at Petermann Glacier, where 290 km2 of ice broke away. The rate of area loss in marine-terminating glaciers this year (419 km2) was 3.4 times that of the previous 8 years, when regular observations are available. There is now clear evidence that the ice area loss rate of the past decade (averaging 120 km2/year) is greater than loss rates pre-2000."

The Byrd Polar Research Centre reported in early August the Petermann Glacier lost the largest single area loss observed for Greenland, but this incident is not isolated with many of Greenland's glaciers continuing to lose ice mass. "Sleeping giants are awakening..." said a blog entry by Jason Box on August 14.

The release of the reportcard follows publication of a study warning of Extreme Drought conditions worsening globally with climate change.

Sources

* NOAA media release, October 21, 2010 - Arctic Report Card: Region Continues to Warm at Unprecedented Rate
* Arctic Report Card - Update for 2010