Three times faster than the rest of the planet. This is the rate at which the Arctic has warmed since 1971, more than previously believed, warns an Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) report released this morning. Thursday. In less than half a century, from 1971 to 2019, the annual average temperature in this northern region climbed 3.1 ° C when the planet warmed at the same time by 1 ° C, according to the updated document released Thursday.
Every fraction of a degree counts: the probabilities of the sea ice completely disappearing in summer – before reforming during the winter season – are ten times higher if the temperature on Earth increases by 2 ° C rather than 1.5 ° C, the objectives established by the Paris Agreement.
“The probability of an arctic summer without ice is ten times greater”
These alarming data are included in an updated AMAP report on climate change in the Arctic released at a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, which brings together in Reykjavik the riparian countries of the region this week. . “An important update is that the average annual increase in the Arctic surface (land and ocean) between 1971 and 2019 was three times greater than the increase in the global average during the same period. is more than indicated in previous AMAP assessments, “the authors say. The previous update, published in 2019, indicated that the warming in the Arctic reached “more than double the world average”, a gap that is further accentuated in winter.
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“In most emission scenarios (greenhouse gases, Editor’s note), the vast majority of models (…) suggest before 2050 an Arctic for the first time almost without sea ice in September “, the month when it is generally at its lowest, add its authors.” The probability of a summer Arctic without (marine) ice is ten times greater with the scenario of a global warming of 2 ° C than with a scenario of 1.5 ° C “, they point out. According to the projections cited by the report, the temperatures Arctic averages by the end of the century are expected to rise between 3.3 ° C and 10 ° C above their average over the period 1985-2014, the exact figure depending on the volume of future greenhouse gas emissions Greenhouse.
Record temperatures in Russia and Finland
This report appears as the Arctic Circle displays exceptional temperatures. Monthly records were largely broken Wednesday in northwest Russia, where it was recorded as high as 35 degrees, and eastern Finland. While part of Europe is faced with cool temperatures and rain, the mercury has reached 35 degrees in Tikhvin, 34.2 ° C in Poudoj and 32 to 33 ° C in territories located at the level of the polar circle in Russia.
According to Scottish meteorologist Scott Duncan, these are exceptional values for May. They represent values 20 to 24 degrees above seasonal norms.
For Etienne Kapikian, forecaster at Météo France, it is “one of the earliest 30 degrees ever seen north of the Arctic Circle”. He said on Twitter that the arrival of the heat “was brutal”. Indeed, ten to fifteen days earlier, “the ground was covered with snow” as in Kalevala (Karelia) where 17 centimeters of snow covered the ground on the morning of May 8, before a monthly record of 28.8 degrees on May 19 .
In the Arctic zone, which stretches from the North Pole to the Arctic Circle, the development of life is normally slowed down by very low temperatures that can drop to -50 ° C and by very low light a great deal of light. part of the year (polar nights). Only a meager vegetation manages to grow, the tundra.
During the winter period, the pack ice is reconstituted to reach, in March, a surface a little more than 14 million km2. In summer, it melts and is reduced to less than 5 or even 4 million km2 in September. A trend that is accelerating with global warming. Warming here is at least twice as fast as elsewhere on the planet and is reducing the extent of the sea ice, a threat to iconic species such as polar bears and seals. In 2019 and 2020, temperatures had already set at record levels. Last year, summer sea ice reached its second smallest area on record, after 2012.
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Other alarming phenomena: the emergence of large forest fires in remote areas and the melting of permafrost, which releases large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than CO2.
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