The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world — triggering a “massive decline in sea ice and snow,” according to a new federal report.
On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 11th annual Arctic Report Card, which compiles data from 61 scientists in 11 countries.
“Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program, said in a statement.
Highest air temperatures since 1990
Mathis said that, while the science is clearer, researchers must continue to observe the Arctic to better inform decisions “on environmental health and food security as well as emerging opportunities for commerce.”
The study shows that the increase in average air temperature between October 2015 and September 2016 was the largest since 1995 at 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 degrees Celsius) above those recorded in 1900 — marking the highest average on record.
The temperature shift in the Arctic points to global climate change, according to the report, which called the hotter temperatures a “major indicator of global warming and the influence in Greenhouse gases.”
The report also found record low snow cover in the North American Arctic and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Arctic sea ice also is thinning.
“Sea ice extent has decreasing trends in all months and virtually all regions, the exception being the Bering Sea during winter,” read the report.
The findings also revealed a change in the carbon cycle due to melting permafrost in the northern latitudes. More carbon is stored in the permafrost than in the Earth’s atmosphere. Once permafrost melts, the carbon would release into the atmosphere, which would exacerbate the effects that the greenhouse gas has on the planet as well as have effects on global weather patterns and climate.
Heating up or just a ‘hoax’?
The NOAA report, as it sounds an alarm about global warming, is likely to face pushback from President-elect Donald Trump given his past remarks.
In 2012, Trump tweeted that global warming was “created” by the Chinese. He also called it a “hoax” in several public statements and in a 2014 tweet about a cold winter. However, he denied his global warming claims about the Chinese during a presidential debate.
Despite his past tweets, which still remain up, Trump has appeared to adopt a different position after his election. The President-elect told The New York Times in an interview after the election, “I think there is some connectivity,” when asked about the role that carbon dioxide produced by humans plays in climate change.
Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is a prominent denier of climate science, writing in the National Review in May that “the debate is far from settled” over whether human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth.
The President-elect’s answer, unsurprisingly, changed again this past Sunday during this past week’s Fox News Sunday interview.
“Nobody really knows” if climate change is real, Trump said in the interview.
Read the full report here: Arctic Report Card 2016