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Arctic entering entirely new climate state, concludes new study

Arctic entering entirely new c...
A new study has found that the Arctic is entering a "new climate" state
A new study has found that the Arctic is entering a "new climate" state
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A new study has found that the Arctic is entering a "new climate" state
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A new study has found that the Arctic is entering a "new climate" state
Graphs of changes in the three factors the team modeled – minimum sea ice extent, surface temperature and number of rainy days. The colored sections are the ranges expected in the "old Arctic" climates, while the lines indicate past averages and projected averages in future.
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Graphs of changes in the three factors the team modeled – minimum sea ice extent, surface temperature and number of rainy days. The colored sections are the ranges expected in the "old Arctic" climates, while the lines indicate past averages and projected averages in future.

The Arctic is one place that’s been hit particularly hard by climate change. Now a new study has shown that the Arctic is beginning to transition into an entirely new climate state, leaving its predominantly frozen state behind.

While the Arctic has been characteristically cold for thousands of years, there are of course natural fluctuations within a certain range. But now, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have found that these fluctuations are moving out of the expected range, towards a “new Arctic” climate.

"The rate of change is remarkable," says Laura Landrum, lead author of the study. "It's a period of such rapid change that observations of past weather patterns no longer show what you can expect next year. The Arctic is already entering a completely different climate than just a few decades ago."

With sea ice levels hitting record lows and temperatures hitting record highs in recent years, the team wanted to investigate whether the Arctic was fundamentally a different climate than it was just a few decades ago. To do so, they used large amounts of observational data of Arctic climate conditions to statistically define the boundaries of the “old Arctic” range, and used hundreds of computer simulations to project conditions forward.

The three major factors they took into account were late summer sea ice extent (when it’s at its lowest point annually), fall and winter air temperatures, and when precipitation switches from mostly snow to mostly rain.

The team applied statistical techniques to define when the usual changes in each of these three figures exceeded natural variation. Basically, if a given 10-year average of a number was more than two standard deviations away from its average in the 1950s, then it constituted a new climate.

Graphs of changes in the three factors the team modeled – minimum sea ice extent, surface temperature and number of rainy days. The colored sections are the ranges expected in the "old Arctic" climates, while the lines indicate past averages and projected averages in future.
Graphs of changes in the three factors the team modeled – minimum sea ice extent, surface temperature and number of rainy days. The colored sections are the ranges expected in the "old Arctic" climates, while the lines indicate past averages and projected averages in future.

By this reasoning, the team found that for sea ice extent, a new climate already emerged around the turn of the century. The average September minimum is now 31 percent lower than it was in the decade 1979 to 1988. If greenhouse gas emissions remain high, the team predicts that by the end of this century the Arctic could experience between three and 10 months a year with almost no sea ice.

The models suggest that air temperatures over the ocean will enter a new climate by 2050, with air temperatures over land following in the second half of the century. And for precipitation changes, the team found that by mid-century the rainy season will likely be between 20 and 60 days longer, and up to 90 days longer by 2100.

"The Arctic is likely to experience extremes in sea ice, temperature, and precipitation that are far outside anything that we've experienced before," says Landrum. "We need to change our definition of what Arctic climate is.”

Of course, as comprehensive as our models can be, these kinds of predictions aren't always entirely accurate. Climate is an intricate web of factors, including overlooked ones like algae blooms and new ozone layer holes, others that we underestimate, and others still that we aren't even aware of. Exactly how this all plays out is still up for debate, but with so many independent studies reaching similar conclusions, the next century is set to be a transformative one for the top of the world.

The research was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Source: NCAR

13 comments
windykites
Will there be a snowball effect? (lol)
Catweazle
Really... As the Earth is still warming up from the last glacial epoch and will continue to do for at least another millennium, this is entirely to be expected. I am typing this in a location that only around 10,000 years ago was under a kilometre of ice, in a landscape now composed of U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys, moraine dams, drumlins and liberally sprinkled with erratics. all of which are the result of the glaciers receding. Now, that was some climate change that caused THAT, and not a single SUV or airliner anywhere in sight!
Mike Johnson
Nearly EVERYTHING will be different in 100 years though few living today will be here to make observations. The past 200 years especially has seen ever accelerating rates of change and we are far closer to the beginning than the end. Most of the land above sea level is concentrated at higher latitudes in the N. Hemisphere so shorter less severe winters are definitely prospective if such predictions as above are borne out.
moreover
Climate naysayers often claim that "climate is always changing" – but in fact climate only changes in response to climate forcings. Scientists have long identified those forcings - some force cooling, some warming - and the biggest impact is from manmade CO2. So while exact modeling is hard there simply are no hidden forcings lurking to jump out and massively reverse the trend. And by the way: two standard deviations away from the average is not something you often get - except maybe for cancer growth.
Arandor
So who is going to get China to curb their CO2?
Chris Coles
Catweazle, you need to read Earth's Shifting Crust by Charles Hapgood, where you will discover that at the time of the last so called "Ice Age", the north pole was located in Hudson Bay; that there is evidence that these shifts are a regular feature caused by disturbances in the rotational dynamics of the planet. Hapgood implied that the next movement was going to bring New York to the equator; except that recent analysis of data from GRACE https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6332 shows that that movement has stopped and now the north pole axis is accelerating towards the UK. Every day brings something new to learn.
JustSaying
No matter how you spin it....Human Kind will adapt! We have had thousands of years of climate changes which have caused famine and displacement in where we live. And yet, here we are! We will continue to adapt to the changes before us, or, we will die as a species, and I don't see that as a option.
1stClassOPP
Not to worry. We (humans) will die before humans can kill the earth.
Worzel
That means that it will soon be back to where it was before the ''little Ice Age'' commenced. So, no real difference from its historical state, when the Northwest Passage was normal. How anyone can still cling to the ''CO2=global warming'' myth, is beyond me, but then loads of people still believe in mythical gods. Human produced CO2 is just a miserable 10% of the total, so even if humans reduced their CO2 output to zero, it wouldn't change much. [To achieve that they would all have to stop breathing! :-))]
Johannes
Worzel, you'd only have to stop breathing if you killed all the plants. There's this thing called photosynthesis...