2016 will be remembered for many things, one of them being the heat. Globally, it was the hottest year since instrumental records began, but Arctic temperatures during 2016 were truly exceptional. As the year drew to a close, the high-latitude Arctic was blistered with extended periods of record-breaking heat. Surface temperatures during October–December were, on average, ~5 °C above expected in an area spanning the Arctic Ocean, from Greenland across the North Pole to far eastern Russia.
In many areas, winter still hasn’t settled in and snow and ice are rare sights. In the north, unusually high air temperatures and a warm ocean have led to a record low Arctic sea ice extent for November, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice extent also hit a record low for the month, caused by moderately warm temperatures and a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.
The rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is one of the most direct indicators of the ongoing climate change on our planet. Over the past forty years, the ice cover in summer has shrunk by more than half, with climate model simulations predicting that the remaining half might be gone by mid-century unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly. However, a number of studies have indicated that climate models underestimate the loss of Arctic sea ice, which is why these models might not be the most suitable tools to quantify the future evolution of the ice cover. A new study explains the underlying issues and allows for the first time to calculate individual contributions to Arctic's shrinking sea ice.
On September 10th 2016 Arctic sea-ice reached its minimum extent of 4.14 million square kilometres, making it the second lowest minimum on record. The record low is still retained by 2012, when the ice extent fell to an incredible 3.39 million square kilometres. But predicting exactly when the Arctic will see its first ice-free summer may be more difficult than previously believed, according to the results of new research.
The Arctic sea ice has become a synonym for effects of climate change. Almost every year, news of another record low of the white northern cap, which covers the Arctic Ocean, make it to the headlines in the news around the globe. This winter season, the extent of Arctic sea ice has reached another record low according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by data from long-term observations in the Fram Strait, which researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have now analysed. Their most important finding: even a short-term influx of warm water into the Arctic Ocean would suffice to fundamentally impact the local symbiotic communities, from the water’s surface down to the deep seas. As the authors recently reported in the journal “Ecological Indicators”, that’s precisely what happened between 2005 and 2008.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) supports the new Transregional Collaborative Research Centre TR 172 “Arctic climate change” represented by the speaker Prof. Dr. Manfred Wendisch, meteorologist from Leipzig University, during the next four years. In January 2016 the research network will start. Research partners in the project are the Alfred Wegener Institute, the Leipzig University, the University of Bremen, the University of Cologne and the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Leipzig. It is the first systematic large-scale investigation on this subject in Germany.
Since days ago, there had been storm warnings for Svalbard for the night from December 18, forecasting winds up to hurricane force. The storm that hit last night was the strongest one in Longyearbyen in 30 years.
At 19 September 2015 a conference in Quebec, Canada an international research team will present the first online data portal on global permafrost. In the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (www.gtnp.org) researchers first collect all the existing permafrost temperature and active thickness layer data from Arctic, Antarctic and mountain permafrost regions and then make it freely available for download. This new portal can serve as an early warning system for researchers and decision-makers around the globe. A detailed description of the data collection is published today in an open access article on the Earth System Science Data portal.
For the first time, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have successfully employed a geochemical method used in glacier research to decode climate data from millennia-old permafrost ground ice and reconstruct the development of winter temperatures in Russia’s Lena River Delta. Their conclusions: Over the past 7,000 years, winter temperatures in the Siberian permafrost regions have gradually risen. The researchers claim that this is due to the changing position of the Earth relative to the sun and is amplified by the rising greenhouse-gas emissions since the dawn of industrialisation.