News from the Arctic

According to scientists from the National Ocenic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  November 2016 was the fifth-highest November temperature in 122 years of record-keeping. The year to date, spanning January to November in this analysis, was the warmest such period on record. The average global temperature was 1.69 degrees F above the average of 57.2 degrees, surpassing the record set in 2015 by 0.13 degrees F. The average Arctic sea ice extent for November was 17.7 percent below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest November extent since record-keeping began in 1979.

 

 

Arctic sea ice is retreating rapidly, raising prospects of a future ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer. „Since climate-model simulations of the sea-ice loss differ substantially, we here use a robust linear relationship between monthly-mean September sea-ice area and cumulative CO2 emissions to infer the future evolution of Arctic summer sea ice directly from the observational record“, as Dirk Notz and Julienne Stroeve ireported in Science in November 2016: „The observed linear relationship implies a sustained loss of 3 ± 0.3 m2 of September sea-ice area per metric ton of CO2 emission. Based on this sensitivity, Arctic sea-ice will be lost throughout September for an additional 1000 Gt of CO2 emissions.“

 

Despithe the warnings of scientists, the global warming is increasing since decades. „ We are living on a raft, so we have to take into consideration the fact that everything has an impact somewhere else in the world“, states French filmmaker Luc Jaquet. „If we burn something somewhere, it’s going to have an impact elsewhere. And no one, either rich or poor, is going to be spared. People have to take responsibility for their actions.“

 

The biggest polluters on our planet are coal power stations, cars and the meat production. But also film production are emitting emissions. According to the research results of the French consortium Ecoprod and British BAFTA , the production of a  single feature film generates between 650 and 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The hugest factors are always energy and transportation. If  every film brings almost an iceberg to melt, it is certainly on time to lower the footprint with the tools that are available such as hybrid generators and electric cars that are powered with renewable energy.

                                                                                           Source: BAFTA

The impact of human actions is becoming more dramatic as NOAA  points out in the 2016 Arctic Report.

• Smaller Greenland ice sheet: The Greenland ice sheet continued to lose mass in 2016, as it has since 2002 when satellite-based measurement began. The start of melting on the Greenland ice sheet was the second earliest in the 37-year record of observations, close to the record set in 2012.
• Record low sea ice: The Arctic sea ice minimum extent from mid-October 2016 to late November 2016 was the lowest since the satellite record began in 1979. Arctic ice is thinning, with multi-year ice now comprising 22 percent of the ice cover as compared to 78 percent for the more fragile first-year ice. By comparison, multi-year ice made up 45 percent of ice cover in 1985.

 

• Arctic Ocean productivity: Springtime melting and retreating sea ice allowed for more sunlight to reach the upper layers of the ocean, stimulating widespread blooms of algae and other tiny marine plants which form the base of the marine food chain, another sign of the rapid changes occurring in a warming Arctic.
• Carbon cycle changing: Overall, the warming tundra is now releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than it is taking up. Twice as much organic carbon is locked in the northern permafrost as is currently in the Earth’s atmosphere. If the permafrost melts and releases that carbon, it could have profound effects on weather and climate in the Arctic and the rest of the Earth.

 

Photos: © NOAA/ Sarah Del Ben – Wild Touch

 

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