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A year of heat and fire accelerated the transformation of the Arctic

(Bloomberg) – When Donald Perovich, an engineering professor at Dartmouth and a member of the Arctic MOSAiC research team, conducted his first sea ice field experiment in the region in 1979, he and his colleagues weren’t studying the ice because they were concerned. for climate change. They studied it because it was there. “When it started, it was scientifically very difficult,” he says. “From a personal perspective, the adventure was truly incredible.” Perovich is also the author of the 2020 US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report on the Arctic, released today, which documents how rising temperatures are devastating the top of the ocean. world. He led the chapter on Arctic sea ice, which a warm spring and early summer pushed to its second lowest level in 42 years. Arctic sea ice has been falling an average of 13% per decade since 1979, with precipitous falls of Occasionally; This year, floating ice continued to decline under the second highest Arctic temperatures recorded since 1900. The heat left the Arctic portion of the Eurasian land mass with its lowest June snow cover in 54 years. Northeast Russia saw record wildfires, and Verkhoyansk, a city in that region, experienced the highest temperature north of the Arctic Circle, reaching 38 ° C in June. Glaciers in Greenland continued to shed water at a rate above the long-term average, but below last year’s peak. Northern ecosystems are changing, not always for the worse, depending on the species. Warmer waters have swept plankton to the top of the world, leading to a prodigious increase in the living mass of Arctic waters. As a consequence, Greenland whales, a staple food source for indigenous peoples for millennia, until they were hunted almost to extinction in the previous two centuries, have returned to their population levels of the early 1800s. The MOSAiC expedition. , in which NOAA was involved from its inception, generated a library of data that scientists are only now investigating. The project monitored the atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems, and marine chemistry, all over a layer of sea ice that is scarred from decades of accelerating heat. It was not an easy mission to accomplish. “The challenges started with simply finding an ice floe to moor the ship and making observations, as the ice in the target region was thinner than expected,” the report states. Observations taken during the MOSAiC year in the Arctic now they meet with dozens of scientists, who will analyze them in part to help improve climate models that project what warming may do to the region and the world below it. Perovich was not on the MOSAiC ship; contributed remotely. But he still remembers his time aboard the SHEBA project, a similar one-year polar expedition in the late 1990s, where he served as chief scientist. “Every year in early October, I look at the ice maps to see where we started” in 1997, he says. “It was only in the open sea. We would have had to go hundreds of miles further north. ”For the 15th anniversary issue of NOAA’s Arctic Report, the authors specifically reflected on this decade and a half. In one essay, they wrote that the “minimum sea ice extent of September 2007 surprised scientists,” with a 23% drop from the all-time low set in 2005. The ice has never returned to its pre-2007 levels. ” It’s amazing how much ice has been lost, ”says Perovich. “You don’t expect to see something that, in my opinion, should have been a geologic time process, but melted away during a human lifetime.” Original Note: A Year of Heat and Fire Accelerated the Arctic’s TransformationFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source. © 2020 Bloomberg LP

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