Scientists warn of rising temperatures in the Arctic

Scientists warn of rising temperatures in the Arctic

The warming is going faster than climate models predict, they simply can’t accommodate the rapid changes, says marine scientist Morven Moelwick of Norwegian Polar Institute to NTB.

If sea ice disappears around the North Pole, scientists warn of consequences for the entire globe. In the Arctic, the polar bear and other animal species could become extinct.

But they require measurements in the Arctic, which is difficult to reach and has a harsh climate. Now scientists are calling for a special climate model adapted to the region, the TT news agency writes.

I think the models are wrong

Climate models are good tools for estimating future climate. But there is also a great deal of uncertainty associated with the models, especially in the Arctic region.

In particular, projections for future sea temperatures and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean are very conservative.

– The relatively warm waters in the polar regions are actually much warmer and closer to sea ice. So we think the polar ice cap will melt faster than climate models show, says climate science researcher Selene Hughes at the University of Gothenburg.

She is the lead author of a study that compared data from climate models with assumptions and observations from the real world.

– That’s serious. If the world’s governments and organizations are to have confidence in climate models, they must be reviewed. Therefore, research and data collection in the Arctic should be prioritized.

Increased stratification in the periphery

When the ice disappears, it in turn increases global warming, as the ocean absorbs more radiation from the sun.

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According to the researchers, the weakness of current climate models is related to the stratification of the ocean.

– In the northern Barents Sea and the area north of Svalbard, the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the south meet the cold waters of the Arctic. Muilwijk explains that the salty, warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean are heavier than the relatively fresh, cold waters of the Arctic Ocean.

– When the two water masses meet, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean sink below the waters of the Arctic. Because the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are salty and heavy, they continue as a deep ocean current beneath the lighter Arctic waters of the Arctic Ocean. This is what is referred to as stratification in the sea, says Mulewijk.

Scientists believe that the Arctic is warming faster than expected. It will have serious consequences for the world’s climate, and now it is urgent to implement the measures. Photo: Are Føli/NTB

When the cold Arctic water ends up over the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, sea ice forms and covers the surface. But the warming of the ocean in recent decades has increased the supply of warm water from the Atlantic Ocean, which in turn has led to a weakening of the layers in the Arctic Ocean.

Climate models differ in the evolution of this process. About half of the models predict an increase in stratification and the other half a decrease in the next century. This makes it difficult to calculate the consequences of future warming in the Arctic, Moelwick says.

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consequences for ecosystems

A warmer ocean is of great importance to our ecosystems. Southern species suddenly move north to new habitats where they compete for food with species that already belong there, such as Arctic cod.

Arctic cod is the most abundant plankton-eating fish in the Arctic and itself is a common prey item for cod, seals, whales, seabirds, and other Arctic animals.

In addition, the Arctic is a key area for calculating how strong global warming will be in the future.

The Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the rest of the world over the past 40 years. Some researchers think the first years without sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in summer could come as early as around 2050.

We need a climate model specifically designed for the Arctic. Only then can we better say with accuracy what the climate will be like in the future, says Heuzé.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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