New Delhi: Many studies around the world have discussed the Arctic’s rapid warming, but a new study by Finnish scientists revealed that the Arctic has been warming four times faster than the rest of the world over the last 43 years.
This means the Arctic is on average around 3°C warmer than it was in 1980.
In recent decades, the warming in the Arctic has been much faster than in the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
Numerous studies report that the Arctic is warming either twice, more than twice, or even three times as fast as the globe on average.
A new study, just out yesterday in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, is the latest to weigh in.
It found that the Arctic Circle, the area located above 66.5 degrees latitude, has warmed by more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1979.
This is alarming because the Arctic contains sensitive and delicately balanced climate components that, if pushed too hard, will respond with global consequences.
“Of course, everyone knows that the Arctic warms faster than the rest of the globe,” said Alexey Karpechko, a scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute and a co-author of the new study.
“But I think the number nearly four times that we found now is simply quite impressive.”
The faster warming rate in the Arctic compared to the globe as a whole is nowadays considered a robust fact.
The phenomenon, called Arctic or polar amplification (AA), can be seen in both instrumental observations and climate models as well as in paleoclimate proxy records.
The observations indicate that, during 1979–2021, a large fraction of the Arctic Ocean was warming faster than 0.75 C, with a maximum warming in the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean, near Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya.
In this region, the temperature trend over 1979–2021 locally exceeds 1.25 C.
The scientists say we compared the observed Arctic amplification ratio with the ratio simulated by state-of-the-art climate models, and found that the observed four-fold warming ratio over 1979–2021 is an extremely rare occasion in the climate model simulations.
The observed and simulated amplification ratios are more consistent with each other if calculated over a longer period. However, the comparison is obscured by observational uncertainties before 1979.
“Our results indicate that the recent four-fold Arctic warming ratio is either an extremely unlikely event, or the climate models systematically tend to underestimate the amplification,” it said.
There are many reasons why the Arctic is heating up more quickly than other parts of the Earth. Changes in the amount of air pollution coming from Europe and natural multi-decade climate variations likely play a role.
But human-caused global warming is the underlying reason that the Arctic, and the planet as a whole, are heating up.