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Arctic summer temperatures at warmest level for 120,000 years

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the past 100 years are hotter than they have been in at least 44,000 years, and possibly as long as 120,000 years, according to a new study. The study of mosses emerging from beneath receding glaciers on Baffin Island — the world’s fifth-largest island located west of Greenland — confirms that rapid Arctic warming has already put parts of the region in new climatic territory.

Arctic warming is transforming the Far North by melting sea and land ice, speeding spring snowmelt, and acidifying the Arctic Ocean. Arctic warming may even be redirecting the jet stream in the northern midlatitudes, making some types of extreme weather events more likely in the U.S. and Europe.

Departure from average of Arctic surface temperatures during the first decade of the 21st century, as compared to the 1971-2000 average. The map illustrates that no part of the Arctic experienced cooler-than-average conditions during this period.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA

On Baffin Island, glaciers have been receding approximately 6.5 to 10 feet per year, and they are likely to be gone entirely within the next few centuries if current trends continue, said lead author Gifford Miller of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The new research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is the first to present physical evidence that indicates the warming in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth during the Holocene epoch, which began after the last Ice Age ended about 11,700 years ago.
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