Arctic hits second warmest temperatures on record in 2018

Historically high temperatures and increasingly thinning ice are indicating worrisome climate trends, according to a new federal report released Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual report paints a stark picture for the future of one of the globe’s coldest regions, finding that temperatures in 2018 were the second warmest on record after 2016 — an increase of 1.7 degrees Celsius relative to the long-term average.

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In fact, over the past five years, temperatures have risen above that average, the report said.

Hotter temperatures are also contributing to significant melting in the typically extensively frozen and inhospitable region. The region’s oldest and thickest ice has declined by 95 percent over the past 33 years and currently only makes up less than 1 percent of the total ice pack.

That directly impacts global climate since the arctic plays a significant role in regulating temperatures.

Without older, thicker ice, the region’s ice remains younger, thinner and not as expansive as in past years. In fact, the reach of sea ice measured in March of this year was the second lowest in 39 years.

The report noted that one of the more “remarkable” changes included the lack of ice found in the Bering Sea, which was at its record low for nearly the entire 2017 and 2018 ice season.

Other worrisome factors include the increasing spread of toxic algal blooms in the Arctic, the report said, a phenomenon that has recently also been plaguing the Gulf Coast of Florida and is connected to warming waters.

“The collective results reported in the 2018 Arctic Report Card show that the effects of persistent Arctic warming continue to mount," the report noted.

"Continued warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad change in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways. New and rapidly emerging threats are taking form and highlighting the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change that is to come.” 

NOAA’s report comes after the United Nations released two reports in the past few months warning of the irreversible effects of climate change on weather patterns, sea level rise, glacier melting and rising temperatures.

The Trump administration at the end of November released its own report acknowledging greenhouse gases' effects on climate change and warning of the economic repercussions that will likely stem from it.

However, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time MORE and his Cabinet members viewed the report skeptically.

Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said he was still reading through the report late last week, when he announced the EPA would be rolling back regulations on coal fire plants. Coal, when burned, contributes large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.