Record high temps are leading to more exposed permafrost and the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its annual report and the agency says the Arctic region has recorded the warmest air temperatures since 1900, according to the Washington Post.
The temperature of the air for the period of October 2015 through September 2016 was 3.6 degrees F higher than the recorded average in those months back in during a 1981-2010 time frame.
The annual report is peer reviewed up through September, but the researchers included a non-peer reviewed portion that included the months of October and November 2016 to highlight the record-breaking results. The report also cites record low levels of sea ice as the Arctic heads into the winter season.
“The story in the Arctic has been warming in the summertime, you have this big loss of sea ice in the summer,” offered Jeremy Mathis, who directs NOAA’s Arctic Research Program, “but now we’re seeing temperature records being shattered in the wintertime.”
Saying this was a critical point in time, because of record high temperatures set in January, February, October and November of 2016, Mathis added, “The average surface temperature in the Arctic from January until September of 2016 was by far the highest we’ve observed since 1900.”
The second-lowest level of Arctic sea ice ever recorded was noted in September, usually the summer minimum. Other months also had record low amounts of ice, and the melt season for the Greenland ice sheet had its second-earliest beginning in 2016 as well.
Scientists are placing the blame for the rising temps on a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the Arctic itself is compounding the problem. It seems that permafrost soil, now being exposed, contain twice as much CO2 buried in the ground as compared to what is in the air.
Even after accounting for increased plant growth in the region, there appears to be a net increase in CO2 being released and absorbed by the air in the Arctic region, defined as the area of the world that is north of 60 degrees latitude.
The melting of the sea ice is leading to a rise in sea levels and the warming trend shows no signs of stopping, as climatologists call for world governments to reduce the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.