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The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world

In 2019, the United Nations climate panel (IPCC) estimated that the Arctic was warming “more than twice the global average”, as a result of a specific process in the region.

This phenomenon, called “Arctic amplification”, occurs when sea ice and snow, which naturally reflect the sun’s heat, melt into seawater which absorbs more solar radiation and heats up.

In the new study, the researchers, based in Norway and Finland, analyzed four sets of temperature data collected across the entire Arctic Circle by satellites since 1979 – the year satellite data first became available.

They concluded that the Arctic has warmed an average of 0.75°C per decade, almost four times faster than the rest of the planet.

Due to greenhouse gases generated by human activities, mainly by fossil fuels, the planet has already gained nearly 1.2°C since the pre-industrial era.

“The scientific literature considers that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, so I was surprised that our conclusion was much higher than the usual figure,” Antti Lipponen told AFP. member of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and co-author of the study.

However, the study found large local variations in the rate of warming within the Arctic Circle. For example, the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean, near the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and the Russian one of Novaya Zemlya, has warmed by 1.25°C per decade, about seven times faster than the rest. of the world.

The intense warming of the Arctic, in addition to a serious impact on the inhabitants and on the local fauna, which depends on the continuity of the sea ice for hunting, will also have global repercussions.

The melting of the ice cap is the main driver of sea level rise, ahead of the melting of glaciers and the expansion of the ocean due to the warming of the water.

According to the IPCC, the sea level has risen by 20 cm since 1900. However, the rate of this rise has almost tripled since 1990 and, depending on the scenarios, the oceans could still gain 40 to 85 cm by the end of the century. .

The Greenland Ice Sheet, which recent studies may be approaching the “tipping point” of melting, contains an amount of icy water capable of raising the level of Earth’s oceans by up to six metres.