What is going on in the Barents Sea?
New reports show that warming in some places in the Arctic is seven times more powerful than the global average.
An unexpected bright red field on the map foreshadows an unpleasant development. The researchers have not shied away from using the heaviest adjectives when describing developments in the Arctic in recent years.
At the same time, plans are being made for new oil fields in the Barents Sea, during the summer, two new reports came out that confirmed what many climate scientists had known – the warming in the Arctic is going much faster than previously expected.
A couple of years ago, it was widely accepted that the Arctic was warming twice as fast as the global average. That was bad enough.
But during the summer, two new reports showed that warming is four times faster in the Arctic. And it doesn’t stop there – in a particular area of the Barents Sea, and the warming is seven times faster than the average for the planet.
Four degrees per decade
It glows red on the map – the numbers are breathtaking: In some places in the Barents Sea, the warming is 2.7 degrees per decade. In autumn, even worse – up to four degrees per decade.
The warming is most powerful around the Frans Josefs Land and Novaya Zemlya archipelago east of Svalbard.
One result of the rapid Arctic warming is melting the Greenland ice sheet, which contributes to rising sea levels. During the summer, new research emerged that the melting in Greenland – which could not be stopped even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases – leads to an inevitable sea level rise of 30 cm .
There are more signs that something is not right in the Arctic. A study came out this week that the acidification of the western Arctic Ocean is happening three to four times faster than in the rest of the world’s oceans.
The oceans, which absorb a third of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, are becoming increasingly acidic due to the burning of fossil fuels. Still, in the Arctic, it is accelerating the most.
Two reasons for the phenomenon
But what is it then that makes the warming around Frans Josefs Land so extreme?
The main reason is the reduced extent of the ice cover during winter. But it has also been shown that changes in atmospheric circulation play a role.
It indicates that a possible natural climate variation interacts with warming due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. But the main reason is still considered to be the reduction of sea ice.
It is an unpleasant warning of what is to come.
Although the extent of the ice has not hit any record lows in recent years, there is a deeply worrying trend – the thickness of the sea ice in summer has decreased by almost 65 percent since the 1970s.
Some scientists talk about the Arctic summer ice being in a death spiral, that it is only a matter of time before we reach what they call a ” blue ocean event ” – when the ice largely melts away completely during the summer months.
But when can this happen? In the past, it has been talked about around the middle of the century, but there are also reports that it could happen as early as a decade from now.
Regardless of when it happens, we then enter a new reality – when the sea instead absorbs all the solar radiation that today is reflected away by the ice.
The red field is a warning of what is to come – more and more extreme weather events, significantly worse than those we see today.