Arctic Temperatures Rising Twice as Anywhere Else on Earth

Dec 18, 2014 05:05 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

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A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released this week shows that Arctic air temperatures continue to rise more than twice the rate of global temperatures as the region is caught in a brutal cycle of warming.

Findings confirmed by the NOAA, in what is called their annual Arctic report card, showed that increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, shrinking spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean, and declining populations and health of some polar bear populations, according to an NOAA release.

"Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade, and climate," Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, said during a press conference at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. "This year's Arctic Report Card shows the importance of international collaboration on long-term observing programs that can provide vital information to inform decisions by citizens, policymakers and industry."

McLean was one of 63 authors from 13 countries who contributed to the Arctic report card.

The report claims that warming was a "major indicator of global warming" and could be influencing weather patterns in other places, according to the release. Though more research is required, the report found "strong connections between Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns," like warm winter air in Alaska and northern Europe and a polar vortex that caused brutal cold weather in the eastern U.S.

"Arctic air temperatures are both an indicator and driver of regional and global changes," the NOAA report says.

Beyond impacting weather, the warming is contributing to declines in spring snow and summer ice, putting more pressure on polar bears dealing with habitat erosion.

The report determined that the Arctic was warmer in the past five years than it was during the last two decades of the 20th century.

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