In a study published Thursday, August 11 in the scientific journal Nature, researchers based in Finland and Norway have shown that global warming is four times faster in the Arctic than on the rest of the planet.
An average warming of 0.75°C per decade in the Arctic, four times more than the rest of the globe. Here are the conclusions relayed by Finnish and Norwegian researchers in an article published on August 11 in the journal Nature. To achieve this, they analyzed four sets of temperature data collected by satellites over the entire Arctic Circle since 1979.
However, the study has brought to light geographical disparities concerning the warming of the Arctic since the sector of the archipelago of Svalbard (Norway) and that of Novaya Zemlya (Russia) warmed by 1.25 °C per decade, about seven times faster than the rest of the globe.
The Arctic Amplification Behind Accelerated Warming
In 2019, the IPCC had already reported global warming in the region “more than twice the global average”, caused by a phenomenon called “Arctic amplification” linked to albedo. In other words, any surface absorbs part of the solar energy it receives and reflects another part of this energy back into space.
Since ice and snow are the best materials for reflecting solar energy, melting forces the surrounding seawater to absorb more sunlight. This water, which does not have the same ability to reflect solar energy as snow and ice, will therefore heat up more quickly.
Optimistic but outdated old models
At the end of their work, the scientists behind this discovery found that the other most advanced climate models predicted a warming of the zone less than nearly a third of their forecasts. This observation leads one to think that the models previously used represented an underestimation of the phenomenon.
“I was surprised that our conclusion was much higher than the usual figure. Perhaps the next step would be to take a look at these models, to see why they don’t predict what we see in observations and what impact this has on future climate projections,” explained Antti Lipponen, one of co-authors of the study, to AFP.
A warming that aggravates the rise in water levels
Global warming and the melting of glaciers across the globe will also have an impact on sea and ocean levels, with an ever-increasing rise in sea levels expected in the years to come. “As the Arctic warms, its glaciers will melt, which will affect global sea levels. It will affect us all,” warned Antti Lipponen.
According to the IPCC, the sea level has risen by 20 cm since 1900. A rise in water levels which has increased since 1990, with a flood rate three times greater and forecasts of a rise in the level of the oceans of 40 to 85 cm by the end of the century. Finally, the Greenland Ice Sheet, whose melting state is close to the “tipping point”, contains a massive amount of icy water capable of raising the level of the oceans on Earth by more than 6 meters.