The most recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada noted once again that the Arctic is one of the fastest warming areas on Earth.
A new study by researchers at the University of Alberta came to even more surprising conclusions.
In a University of Alberta story by Andrew Lyle, co-author Duane Froese, who is Canada Research Chair in Northern Environmental Change, said ““We’ve known that the last few decades have been very warm, but we’ve found that temperatures are on the order of two degrees Celsius warmer than any time in the last 10,000 years—that was a surprise”.
- RCI: March 2019: the not so slowly disappearing Arctic shore
- RCI: Sept 2018: permafrost thaw-more CO2 than previously thought?
The study noted that the previous high temperatures in the far north occurred in the early Holocene some 9,900 to 6,400 years ago at a time when the Earth axis pointed the north more directly toward the sun. Even the the “Holocene maximum” was still less than what is being recorded today.
No analogue in the historical record for such warming
The climate scientists, including lead author Trevor Porter now at the University of Toronto, say the increase is rapidly melting permafrost destabilising carbon stored in the frozen soil. This is likely to increase greenhouse gasses, along with the melting of glaciers and ice caps with further implications for climate change and sea-level rise.
The study entitled “Recent summer warming in northwestern Canada exceeds the Holocene thermal maximum” was published in Nature Communications ( available here).
The report states, “However, the Arctic is transitioning to a warmer state that appears to have no analogue in the historical record and add that their study implies that the threshold for ice-rich permafrost stability in the Yukon and Alaska region may have already been crossed as evidences by substantial slumping (ground collapse) in the western Arctic. On Banks Island for example there have been thousands of landslides since 1984, going from 63, to 4,077 in just 30 years
They say this could expose vast amounts of previously frozen organic matter which once exposed to microbial decomposition could lead to substantial greenhouse gas releases, further amplifying global warming trends.