melting polar ice

Weird Weather: Warming Arctic Sets Temperature Record

The Weather Channel recently published an article revealing that old ice in the Arctic has experienced a drastic decline this year, with the continuing problem of rising temperatures. This announcement arrives almost hand in hand with the recent landmark climate accord — a historical agreement that will strive to unite both rich and poor nations together in combating the world-wide problem of harmful man-made greenhouse gases that are said to have adverse impact on the weather.

While some people may often wonder if this whole global warming thing is just a myth, here are a few facts.

Sea ice — which appears when Arctic Ocean water freezes — has maintained a minimum coverage this year that is said to be the fourth lowest on record. Another issue has been snow cover. Snow cover observed in June in the North American and Eurasian parts of the Arctic was said to be the second lowest level since records began in 1967.

So what does all this mean?

When there’s not a lot of snow, more sunlight can easily penetrate the land, absorbing energy and, of course, warming things up. Snow cover in this particular area of the Arctic has been dropping by 18 percent per decade since 1979.

But is ongoing warming weather really to blame?

Evidently so.

The article on The Weather Channel also shared that according to an annual Arctic Report Card released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the polar region has experienced a temperature climb of 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit for the year ending in September, which is the highest temperature recorded since the documentation of temperature changes first began in 1900.

Something is definitely up, and the weather isn’t weird without good reason.

At a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, NOAA chief scientist Rick Spinrad warned that warming weather is happening more than twice as fast in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world, and NOAA “knows” this is because of drastic changes in climate and weather patterns.

When weather temperatures rise so drastically, the effects impact the entire planet. Such severe weather changes especially have a negative effect on animals like walruses, who use sea ice to engage in activities such as mating, birthing their young and simply getting out of the water. According to The Weather Channel article, two editors of the Arctic Annual Report Card told AP that because of the shrinking sea ice, walruses are now beginning to crowd onto beaches. This may not seem like a big deal, but the overcrowding can sometimes cause stampedes that can be deadly for walrus calves.

Weird Weather: Warming Arctic Sets Temperature Record
The walrus is just one of many animals impacted by drastic changes in the weather. [Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images]
CBS News also posted an article on the recent strange weather records set in the Arctic, sharing a quote given last spring by Jennifer Kay, an atmospheric scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research and Environmental Science at the University of Colorado.

“We are experiencing greenhouse gases, the planet is heating up, the ice is melting, and this means we should expect new records to be set,” Kay said last spring.

With the breaking news of the record-low percentage of Arctic sea ice this year, Kay said that from a scientific standpoint, she was not at all surprised with the findings. It would seem to be an inevitable result of the problem.

Despite these reports, the new landmark climate accord will hopefully help spurn positive changes not only in the weather, but also in how the citizens of the world view climate change in general and how they will begin to think about how to implement greener practices into their own lives.

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