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article imageExperts say that the Arctic as it was may never recover

By Saikat Basu     Oct 23, 2010 in Environment
The Earth's refrigerator is fast losing its cool, with disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest report on the Arctic.
The Arctic of old is gone and it’s not coming back to as it once was. The Arctic referred to as the Earth’s Refrigerator keeps the Earth cool because of the ice. But thanks to global warming in the surrounding seas, temperatures are increasing and its impact is being felt as ice cover slowly but surely decreases.
Scientists cited this development in the latest report – the 2010 Arctic Report Card. The data came from the efforts of 69 scientists in eight countries.
"Record temperatures across the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, a reduced summer sea ice cover, (and) record snow cover decreases" are the primary catalysts.
Lead researcher Jackie Richter-Menge, an expert at the federal Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab in Hanover, N.H. said,
"It is increasingly unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future that we will return to previous Arctic conditions. It is very likely warming will continue.”
Past research has also revealed warming trends but this time it seems to be more serious. Greenland recorded more than usual high temperatures as well as the largest recorded loss of ice from one of its glaciers (a 110-square-mile chunk from the Petermann Glacier). And the deep freeze across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest thanks to the change in wind direction of the Arctic winds.
Jim Overland, a NOAA scientist sees a clue in the change in the Arctic winds. It has been recorded only three times in 160 years.
"Normally we think of winds bottled up in the Arctic. As we lose more sea ice it's a paradox that warming in the atmosphere can create more of these winter storms.”
As glaciers continue to melt and flow into the oceans, sea level projections also need to be looked at again.
What’s the impact going to be like? NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco gave an idea,
"Beyond affecting the humans and wildlife that call the area home, the Arctic’s warmer temperatures and decreases in permafrost, snow cover, glaciers and sea ice also have wide-ranging consequences for the physical and biological systems in other parts of the world. The Arctic is an important driver of climate and weather around the world and serves as a critical feeding and breeding ground that supports globally significant populations of birds, mammals and fish."
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