Arctic report details drastic changes in warming climate

"The world from our childhood is no longer here"

Jeff Berardelli – CBS News

The Arctic is increasingly at risk as temperatures warm and sea ice melts away, NOAA warns in its annual report card on the state of this crucial ecosystem. At the end of a very dense, very lengthy report loaded with scores of scientific stats, the seemingly abstract have surged 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While the melting and breakup of ice may not seem like a big deal, its significance is profound. That’s because the mirror-like ice surface reflects most sunlight back into space. But less ice exposes darker water, which absorbs 10 times more light and accelerates Arctic heating. This feedback loop is enhancing a phenomenon called Arctic amplification.

A recent study illustrates just how significant Arctic amplification can be. In a future scenario keeping global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) — the goal of the Paris climate agreement — the Arctic will experience 13 degrees Fahrenheit of warming during winter. This all but ensures the extreme record low sea ice experienced on the Bering Sea and across much of the Arctic in recent years will become a typical yearly event.

The heating is not just limited to air temperatures. August mean sea surface temperatures in 2019 were up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1982–2010 average in most of the waters, like the Bering Sea, which lie near the Arctic’s perimeter.

The Arctic Report Card makes clear that what happens in the Arctic will not stay in the Arctic — the changes reverberate all around the world and will only accelerate as the globe continues to heat. But the ones most at risk right now are the indigenous people who count on knowledge passed through the generations. 

“The world from our childhood is no longer here. Our young children today are seeing so much change, but it is difficult for them to understand the pace. We are losing so much of our culture and connections to the resources from our ocean and lands,” they write.

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