Researchers say the Arctic continues to warm twice as fast as the rest of the Earth due to (human-caused) climate change. According to new data included in the annual Arctic Report Card, the average summer temperature of 6.4 degrees last summer was the highest ever recorded in the Arctic.
The data also show that since 1940, average annual temperatures have risen by 0.25 degrees per decade, and average summer temperatures have risen by 0.17 degrees per decade.
As a result of the heat, the highest point in the Greenland ice sheet, Summit Station, melted for the fifth time in the research station’s 34-year history. In addition, another 158.7 billion tons of Greenland ice sheet mass melted. There was also less than normal rain in northern Canada and the Canadian Arctic, leading to a severe wildfire season.
The extent of sea ice continued to decrease, with September 17 being the lowest ever recorded.
The report also states that the Arctic is turning green. Rising temperatures, increased precipitation, and thawing permafrost are causing shrubs and trees to take over grasslands and tundra. This greening could accelerate climate change by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide stored in the permafrost.
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