Arctic ice is crazy low right now and here’s why that’s important
You’ve probably noticed that temperatures around much of the country have been bizarre lately — i.e., warmer than usual. For instance, it was just 75 degrees in Chicago the other day (yes, in November!). Well, the same erratic temperatures are happening in the Arctic. Arctic ice is crazy low right now, reported BuzzFeed News, and here’s why that’s important.
Whether you believe in climate change and global warming or not, the Earth’s behavior doesn’t lie, right? According to NASA, climate change is happening faster in the Arctic versus anywhere else on the planet.
Winter is supposed to be coming to the North Pole, but it’s been warm there for weeks. As a result, the amount of sea ice is minimal, at lows never seen before at this time of year.
How low? Approximately 28 percent below the long-term average in October, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
This tweet’s been making the rounds, too, showing the lack of global sea ice.
This also means that temps at the North Pole have been warmer than usual — as high as 36 degrees above normal (!).
We’re not the only ones who are shocked. Some scientists are, too.
“Seeing extremes in the Arctic is becoming fairly routine in some sense, but this is quite unusual and there has been talk in the community regarding how out of whack things appear at the moment,” Walt Meier, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, told BuzzFeed News.
In an added twist, “polar night” is now happening, i.e., when the sun does not rise, according to The Atlantic. It occurs from November till January. So the fact that it is warm even without the sun rising is concerning.
But the Arctic hasn’t just been having a warm winter; it’s been having a warm year.
Even during the first half of this year, global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent broke many records, which are two key climate change indicators, according to NASA. They made an analysis based on satellite data, as well as ground-based observations.
ICYMI, the global temperature and Arctic sea ice have been changing for decades, which NASA scientists say is significant. They believe the cause is “rising concentrations of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Aside from winter being warm in the Arctic, January to June of 2016 were the ~warmest ever~ for the planet (!). And each month of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest globally in terms of the modern temperature record, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
Similarly, five of the first six months (except March) set records for the smallest respective monthly Arctic sea ice extent since consistent satellite records began in 1979, according to analyses developed by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Hence, the trend is continuing, even in winter.
So what now?
This year, NASA researchers began a nearly decade-long field study of Arctic ecosystems in Alaska and Canada. During the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), researchers will study how forests, permafrost, and other ecosystems respond to rising temperatures in the Arctic.
We’re very curious what the findings will be. And winter still has months to go, so Arctic ice still has a chance to form. After the warm air subsides, “ice can grow rapidly,” Meier told BuzzFeed News.
In the meantime, we’ll try to do our part and be “green” — being as environmentally conscientious as possible — and hope you do, too.