While some people still want to deny climate change or that Mankind has anything to do with it, the facts are stubborn: our planet is warming fast and it is our handy work.
Two events, shocking in their magnitudes and impacts are just showing it. A couple of weeks ago, the news that the Arctic was 36 F / 20 C warmer than normal surfaced. Here is the Guardian’s take on it :
The Arctic is experiencing extraordinarily hot sea surface and air temperatures, which are stopping ice forming and could lead to record lows of sea ice at the north pole next year, according to scientists.
Danish and US researchers monitoring satellites and Arctic weather stations are surprised and alarmed by air temperatures peaking at what they say is an unheard-of 20C higher than normal for the time of year. In addition, sea temperatures averaging nearly 4C higher than usual in October and November.
“It’s been about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia. This is unprecedented for November,” said research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers university.
Temperatures have been only a few degrees above freezing when -25C should be expected, according to Francis. “These temperatures are literally off the charts for where they should be at this time of year. It is pretty shocking. The Arctic has been breaking records all year. It is exciting but also scary,” she said.
Greenland lost one trillion tons of ice in only three years as I was writing about earlier this year:
Between 2011 and 2014, Greenland lost around one trillion tonnes of ice. This corresponds to a 0.75 mm contribution to global sea-level rise each year – about twice the average of the preceding two decades.
These results from the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds combine data from the CryoSat mission with a regional climate model to map changes in Greenland ice-sheet mass.
On the other side of the world, in Antartica, the ice is cracking at an alarming speed. As Scientific American reported:
An ice sheet in West Antarctica is breaking from the inside out.
The significant new findings published yesterday in Geophysical Research Letters show that the ocean is melting the interior of the Pine Island Glacier, which is about the size of Texas. The crack seems to be accelerating, said Ian Howat, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and the study’s lead author. The findings are the first confirmation of something glaciologists have long suspected was happening, he said.
“It’s showing a new weakness in the ice shelf, and it’s showing the weakness may be extending far up the glacier,” he said. “That’s the alarming thing from our standpoint.”
These news make it simple: the world as a whole has to be start cutting greenhouse gases emissions fast if we are to stay on a livable planet. Current trends are nice but they are nowhere near enough what we need to do.
Image credits: NOAA, Flickr.