Arctic has reached ‘new normal’ warmer temperatures

The Arctic has reached “new normal” warmer temperatures and is unlikely to again see the high levels of ice cover witnessed in the past. That’s according to the latest edition […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The Arctic has reached “new normal” warmer temperatures and is unlikely to again see the high levels of ice cover witnessed in the past.

That’s according to the latest edition of an annual report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which tracks the region’s changing climate.

It says the Arctic environment has seen long-term losses in the extent and thickness of the sea ice cover, a shorter duration of winter snow cover and warming sea surface and permafrost temperatures.

Although cooler spring and summer temperatures this year contributed to a rebound in snow cover, ice is becoming younger and thinner, with older, thicker ice making up only 21% of the ice cover in 2017, compared to 45% in 1985.

The NOAA adds in August this year, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic’s Barents and Chukchi seas were up to 4°C warmer than average, contributing to a delay in the autumn freeze-up in these regions.

It also says the Arctic tundra is also experiencing increased greenness.

A report earlier this year suggested polar bear populations are still growing despite global warming.