Autumn Arctic Air Temperatures at Record High Levels

Autumn Arctic Air Temperatures at Record High Levels

Arctic air temperatures climb to record levels
Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:01pm EDT 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fall air temperatures have climbed to record levels in the
Arctic due to major losses of sea ice as the region suffers more effects from a
warming trend dating back decades, a report released on Thursday showed.

The annual report issued by researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and other experts is the latest to paint a dire picture of the impact
of climate change in the Arctic.

It found that fall air temperatures are at a record 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees
C) above normal in the Arctic because of the major loss of sea ice in recent years
that allows more solar heating of the ocean.

That warming of the air and ocean impacts land and marine life and cuts the amount
of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer, according to the report.

In addition, wild reindeer and caribou herds appear to be declining in numbers,
according to the report. The report also noted melting of surface ice in Greenland.

“Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than
in other regions,” James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine
Environmental Laboratory in Seattle one of the authors of the report, said in a
statement.

“It’s a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic
ways.”

Researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of the
University of Colorado, reported last month that Arctic sea ice melted to its
second-lowest level this summer.

The 2008 season, those researchers said, strongly reinforces a 30-year downward
trend in Arctic ice extent — 34 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to
2000, but 9 percent above the record low set in 2007.

Last year was the warmest on record in the Arctic, continuing a regionwide warming
trend dating to the mid-1960s. Most experts blame climate change on human activities
spewing so-called greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere.

(Reporting by Will Dunham)

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