Not much snow, peaks of 19 degrees Celsius in Norway and even 28 degrees in France: official data confirms the anomalously high temperatures of this past winter.
Polar sea ice reaches record low
It has been an unusual winter at the Earth’s poles. Sea ice is shrinking at an accelerating rate and its extent has fallen to a new record low.
The Arctic is registering an unusual winter this year. While temperatures hit a new record in November, it is now sea ice cover to have recorded its lowest extent at a time when it should be at its maximum extent.
In January 2017 the ice cover was 13.38 million square kilometres, the lowest extent in almost 40 years. “It is 260,000 square kilometres smaller than last year and 1.26 million square kilometres below the 1981–2010 average,” reports the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Since the 1970s, poles lost 3.2 per cent of sea ice extent each year, which means some 47,000 square kilometres per year.
— Patrick Duplessis (@Pat_wx) 10 febbraio 2017
Sea ice at poles is shrinking and warm temperatures are to blame
Researchers highlight how in January temperatures were 5 degrees higher than the 1981-2010 average in the Barents Sea, and up to 4 degrees higher in the Chukchi Sea and in the East Siberian Sea. On the other hand, in Northwest Russia and in some north-eastern areas of Greenland temperatures were 3 degrees lower than average. “This has been a most unusual winter,” said Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The researcher suggested that this could be linked to sea ice loss in summer and the consequent impossibility of accumulating ice during winter months.
Elisa Palazzi, researcher of the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science (ISAC) of Italy’s National Research Council (CNR), told LifeGate: “In October and November Arctic sea ice hit a record low. This is a problem because such a situation makes it difficult for new ice to form. And the ice that forms is thinner and thinner. The reduction of sea ice cover influences how much sunlight is absorbed, which heats up sea waters. It is a well-known feedback mechanism and a self-feeding cycle. The less ice there is, the larger the potential warming influence. That’s why the the poles are a sentinel of climate change”.
— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) 19 febbraio 2017
Antarctica is being affected too
Bad news also comes from Antarctica, where a massive iceberg of the Pine Island Glacier broke off, causing an ice loss 10 times the size of Manhattan. Ice melting is happening at an accelerating rate and ice extent in Antarctica is at its lowest since 1997, except in the Weddell Sea where ice is just below the average.
Ocean warming has risen to record highs over the last five years: just in 2019 the heat released into the world’s oceans was equivalent to that of 5-6 atomic bombs per second. The culprit, no doubt, is climate change.
What did Greta Thunberg tell participants at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos? Once again, the Swedish activist underlined the total lack of concrete solutions to the climate crisis presented by leaders so far.
The list of human and animal victims of the Australia wildfires keeps growing – one species might already have gone extinct – as the smoke even reaches South America.
Kivalina is located on a small island once guarded by sea ice, which is now melting due to global warming. While the sea threatens to wipe the village off the face of the Earth, its inhabitants refuse to give up their lives and traditions.
Thanks to activists, the voice of the world’s peoples resounded through the COP25 like an alarm bell. Governments didn’t reach the results they demanded, but their cries and messages were stronger than ever, reaching even those who weren’t in Madrid.
Climate change poses a risk for millions. However, women are the most vulnerable to its negative consequences: a few simple considerations by the Italian Climate Network help us perceive the global implications of this.
The COP25 ended two days late and with very few steps ahead made. Climate negotiations in 2020 will be an uphill battle as political will clearly seems to be lacking, once again.
Living in the “climate moment”: a dialogue between Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and Alexandria Villaseñor
What does it mean to live in the “climate moment”? How did we get here? Is it too late to change? Naomi Klein, Alexandria Villaseñor, Joëlle Zask and Bill McKibben discuss these vital questions at the Albertine Festival in New York City.