Scientists Worry Record High Arctic Temperatures are Here to Stay

Although it might not seem that way on those blustery 10-degree winter days, or during the dog days of summer when the mercury is in the 90s and climbing, here in the United States we really don’t have to worry much about extreme temperatures. Worst case scenario, we crank the heat up temporarily or set the air conditioning a few degrees lower, knowing that our electric bill might suffer somewhat. While households with central air conditioning can reduce costs by up to 15% just by shaving back three degrees, there are some days when cost isn’t a factor.

Yet in other parts of the world, extreme temperatures are a major concern, not just a temporary inconvenience.
According to The Washington Post, scientists have confirmed that the Arctic has just experienced its hottest year on record, by far.

“The average surface temperature in the Arctic from January until September of 2016 was by far the highest we’ve observed since 1900,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Research Program. “And this is a critical point, there were record temperature highs set in January, February, October, and November of 2016.”

The Independent reports that scientists who released the annual Arctic Report Card have warned that the temperatures were changing even faster than our ability to comprehend and explain what was happening. In other words, we can’t keep up with the changing conditions in this previously frigid part of the world.

“While the science is becoming clearer, we need to improve and extend sustained observations of the Arctic that can inform sound decisions on environmental health and food security as well as emerging opportunities for commerce,” Mathis added. “Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase.”

In the past, the Arctic reached warmer temperatures in the summertime, which is obviously quite common. But now, high-temperature records are being shattered during the winter, indicating that these temperature trends are here to stay.

“Governments must urgently work together to establish a future Arctic that minimizes ever greater warming from the loss of sea ice and snow cover and thawing permafrost, and massive sea level rise from the shrinking Greenland ice sheet and other Arctic glaciers,” said Rafe Pomerance, chair of Arctic 21 and board member of the Polar Research Board on the National Academy of Sciences.

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