Arctic temperatures rising twice as fast as the rest of the world

Air temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are in the rest of the world, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

That was one of the main conclusions of NOAA’s annual Arctic Report Card released Wednesday, which also found a rise in sea surface temperatures, shrinking spring snow cover, and declining populations and health of polar bears, among other changes.

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“Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade, and climate,” Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The report found that the Arctic warming is a “major indicator of global warming” and could influence weather elsewhere. It said more research is necessary but found “strong connections between Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns.”

“Arctic air temperatures are both an indicator and driver of regional and global changes,” it said.

Scientists blamed the warming in part on a phenomenon known as Arctic Amplification, in which the loss of snow and ice cover allows more sun and heat to be absorbed and stay in the atmosphere.

The Arctic was warmer in the last five years than it was in the last two decades of the 20th century, researchers said.

Seas in the Arctic are also getting hotter, with Alaska’s Chukchi Sea gaining an average of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.