NOAA has issued its annual "Arctic Report Card"

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

NOAA has issued its annual "Arctic Report Card" -- Since what happens in the Arctic has implications for climate conditions and sea level rise throughout the world, (i.e., this is not just about polar bears and walruses), this is relevant throughout the Service. This link has the highlights and NOAA's video summary (which is less than 4 minutes long): http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/

There are several media stories about this: read one from "CarbonBrief"

The CarbonBrief summary includes a section on how this relates to the climate change agreement adopted in Paris last weekend (the COP21 meeting), which calls for a global average increase in temperature of no more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) at the end of the century in comparison to pre-industrial levels. The article does not mention, however, that the commitments by various countries for COP21, if fully implemented, would not be sufficient to reach the 2 degree C goal and instead would be somewhere from 2.7 to 3.5 degrees C as the global average (depending on the analysis assumptions) -- and of course the Arctic temperatures are much higher than the global average. If emissions are reduced substantially more and soon, the outcome clearly will be much better. Here's that section from the CarbonBrief summary - it includes quotes from James Overland, one of the lead NOAA scientists for the report, on what this means for the Arctic in the next few decades:

"COP21 and the 2C limit ... Models suggest that an average global temperature rise of 2C would mean the Arctic experiences much higher warming, Overland told today’s press conference: If the globe goes to 2C warming, we’re looking at 4-5C warming in the winter for the Arctic by 2040 or 2050. That’s based upon the CO2 that we’ve already put into the atmosphere and will be putting in for the next 20 years. The Arctic is already in “adaptation mode”, says Overland, because of the impacts humanity’s past emissions have locked us into. Cutting our emissions now to meet the 2C goal would have a bigger influence in the second half of the century, he explains. The next generation may see an ice-free summer, but hopefully their descendants will see a return of more sea ice later in the century. One bit of good news, Overland concludes, is the close association between air temperature and sea ice. If we stabilise global temperature, we can stabilise the Arctic climate as well.”

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