World Bulletin / News Desk
A new report on the state of the Arctic released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said 2016 saw unprecedented warmth in the polar region.
The “Arctic Report Card” said historically high air temperatures in the Arctic this year have also triggered an enormous decline in the amount of sea ice and snow in the ecologically crucial region. The warm weather has also delayed the freeze of sea ice that happens every year in the autumn. The record-breaking delay has caused Greenland sheet ice to melt significantly.
The average annual air temperature over land areas in the Arctic has increased 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1900.
The report, which has been released annually since 2005, was announced at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union. Sponsored by NOAA, the report includes the work of 61 scientists working in 11 countries.
“Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program, said in a statement. “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.”
Though sparsely populated -- Greenland has a population of just 56,500, for example -- the Arctic region has an outsized effect on weather across the globe. The Arctic helps dictate jet stream patterns across the entire northern hemisphere, so warming near the North Pole could mean unexpected weather in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The international team of scientists said the warming is largely attributed to the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by humans. Although some phenomenon like the weather pattern El Nino played a role, the increased temperatures are not caused by natural factors alone, scientists noted.
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