Headlines: You Don’t Have to Ask Polar Bears if it is Getting Warmer in the Arctic

October 28, 2013 – Published in the last week in Geophysical Research Letters is a new peer reviewed article entitled Unprecedented recent summer warmth in Arctic Canada. This is not a weather forecast but a catalogue of documented reductions in sea ice, glacial retreats, declining snow cover, and rising ocean and air temperatures. The study looks at 145 radiocarbon datings from 365 living tundra plants that recently emerged from under what were ice caps in the Canadian High Arctic. The data confirms that during the period between 5 and 10,000 years ago the Arctic was warmer because solar radiation was 9% more intense than today. In the 5,000 years that followed the Arctic noticeably cooled with mean temperatures declining by as much as 2.7 Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) degrees. But in the last century this downward trend has been reversed with temperatures rising to exceed any previous century going back 44,000 years. The researchers conclude that it is we who are the cause of this “unprecedented” reversal of the cooling trend leading to growing warmth.

The global climate models that scientists have been using had not predicted such significant swings in temperature as discovered within the data coming from this research. And that is of concern to scientists studying the impact of climate change on the Arctic. The models right now predict an ice-free Arctic Ocean by 2100. But this data may point to a much earlier ice-free date.

This is a big deal for the indigenous peoples of the region. the Polar Bear and other Arctic wildlife.


Arctic polar bear on sea ice

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...