Temperature in Arctic 'climbs to record high'
Arctic ice is melting faster than expected and could raise the average global sea level by as much as five feet this century, a new report claims.
The study by the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) is one of the most comprehensive updates on climate change in the Arctic, and builds on a similar assessment in 2005.
The full report will be delivered to foreign ministers of the eight Arctic nations -- the US, Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland -- next week, but an executive summary including the key findings was obtained by reporters yesterday.
It says that Arctic temperatures in the past six years were the highest since measurements began in 1880, and that feedback mechanisms believed to accelerate warming in the climate system have kicked in.
One mechanism involves the ocean absorbing more heat when it's not covered by ice, which reflects the sun's energy. That effect has been anticipated by scientists "but clear evidence for it has only been observed in the Arctic in the past five years," AMAP said.
The report also shatters some of the forecasts made in 2007 by UN experts.
"The observed changes in sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, in the mass of the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic ice caps and glaciers over the past 10 years represent an obvious departure from the long-term patterns," the AMAP summary said.