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Why the Arctic Is Warming 4 Times as Fast as the Rest of Earth


All the extra warmth in the summer is also trapped in the Arctic Ocean, which is then released throughout the winter. “The worst warming in the Arctic is in the winter, which may surprise people because the greatest sea ice melt is in summer,” said Hahn of the University of Washington. “That’s when you have sunlight. But the idea is There’s seasonal ocean thermal storage.” It’s like a giant radiator that warms the room even after it’s turned off.

At the same time, the storms transported moisture from lower latitudes to the Arctic, further contributing to cloud formation. Warm water from the south is fed northward by ocean currents, further melting the sea ice. “When it melts, the water evaporates and increases atmospheric humidity, which leads to increased cloud cover in winter, and we emit infrared radiation from those clouds to the surface,” Chylek said. “It’s a feedback loop that could lead to an increase in Arctic temperatures, and we think that’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing an increase in temperatures around 2000.”

Cecilia Beats, a University of Washington climate scientist who studies Arctic magnification but was not involved in the new study, points out that there is a lag in the response to greenhouse gases at high latitudes compared to the rest of the planet. It takes time for sea ice to melt, but now that it is melting, the thermal feedback loop in the Arctic has deteriorated and the rate of change has become more pronounced. “First the tropics are warming faster, and now the poles are catching up, which is why you’re seeing a trend,” she said.

The consequences are already huge and far-reaching. First, more melting—especially in Greenland, where 25 trillion tons of ice is lost every year—means higher sea levels. Additionally, warmer waters become physically larger, a phenomenon known as thermal expansion, further raising sea levels.

The landscape is also suffering from literal and metaphorical upheaval. Warming temperatures are melting permafrost known as permafrost. When permafrost loses water, it collapses, dragging down any infrastructure within or above it, such as pipes, roads and buildings. “Have people In the Arctic,” Beats said. “They do very little and shouldn’t be living in this dangerous environment. “

Soaring temperatures have also turned the land green. Shrub species travel north, and vegetation traps more snow on the ground. This prevents the winter cold from penetrating it, potentially accelerating permafrost thawing. All this extra vegetation is also darker — just like the ocean itself is darker than ice — and therefore absorbs more solar radiation.

In short, the Arctic is mired in climatic and ecological uncertainty. “Every summer, my field researchers go to the Arctic and we don’t know what to expect,” said Isla Myers-Smith, a global change ecologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the new study. “This year we arrived in Inuvik, Canada, in a thermal dome with temperatures reaching 32 degrees Celsius [90 degrees Fahrenheit], but in coastal areas, there is still plenty of sea ice around, keeping local temperatures cool. “

This variability makes it difficult for models to determine how the Arctic is changing and to predict how those changes will continue to affect the larger climate system.Here’s why it’s so important for scientists to revise their understanding of what the Arctic is actually warming four times As fast as the rest of the planet.

A major concern is the potential for the climate system to reach a tipping point where warming triggers rapid change. For example, if the Arctic is warm enough, Greenland’s melting could accelerate rapidly. “I don’t think we know exactly what level of warming would trigger if there are these tipping points,” said Michael Previdi, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Such rapid change.” Participate in the new paper. However, he continued, a theoretically larger amplification factor “would increase the chances of passing one of these tipping points.”

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