Federal report: Arctic much worse since 2006
Federal officials say the Arctic region has changed dramatically in the past five years — for the worse.
It’s melting at a near record pace, and it’s darkening and absorbing too much of the sun’s heat.
A new report card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rates the polar region with blazing red stop lights on three of five categories and yellow cautions for the other two. Overall, these are not good grades, but it doesn’t mean the Arctic is doomed and it still will freeze in the winter, said report co-editor Jackie Richter-Menge.
The Arctic acts as Earth’s refrigerator, cooling the planet. What’s happening, scientists said, is like someone pushing the fridge’s thermostat much too high.
“It’s not cooling as well as it used to,” Richter-Menge said.
The dramatic changes are from both man-made global warming and recent localized weather shifts, which were on top of the longer term warming trend, scientists said.
The report, written by 121 scientists from around the world, said statistics point to a shift in the Arctic health in 2006. That was right before 2007, when a mix of weather conditions and changing climate led to a record loss of sea ice, from which the region has never recovered. This summer’s sea ice melt was the second worst on record, a tad behind 2007.
“We’ve got a new normal,” said co-author Don Perovich, a geophysicist at the Army Corps of Engineers Cold Research and Engineering Lab. “Whether it’s a tipping point and we’ll never recover, who’s to say?”
The report highlighted statistics to show an Arctic undergoing change: