Global warming rains the Arctic at a record pace, triggering widespread environmental changes across the planet, including extreme storms in the United States and Europe, a major US report said on Tuesday.
Continuous heat records have affected the fragile Arctic for each of the last five years – a record-breaking warm-up, said the 2018 Arctic Report Card issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Mounting heat to the north has upset typical weather patterns, a trend that "coincides with" heavy winter storms in the eastern states and extreme cold in Europe in March.
"Continuing warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean causes a wide change in the ecological system in predicted and also unexpected ways," the report said.
"New and rapidly emerging threats take shape and highlight the level of uncertainty in the wider range of environmental challenges ahead." Emily Osbourne, Program Manager of the Arctic Research Program of NOAA, told reporters in the Arctic "is experiencing the most unprecedented transition in human history."
The report was published at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, just weeks after America's president Donald Trump's reckless climate change assessment of federal scientists said he did not believe it.
Asked by reporters if he had personally informed Trump about the latest discoveries in the Arctic, NOAA Administrator Timothy Galaude said he was not, but insisted that NOAA has the White House support when it comes to research.
Arctic air temperatures over the last five years, from 2014 to 2018, "have exceeded all previous recordings since 1900," after the archives began, the report, comprised of 81 scientists working for governments and academics environments in 12 countries.
This warming trend "is different from any other record period," he said.
During the last survey period from October 2017 to September 2018, the average annual Arctic temperature was 1.7 ° C higher than the average for 1981-2010.
"Year 2018 is the second hottest year in the Arctic since 1900 (after 2016)," he said.
The Arctic also saw the second lowest overall sea ice cover and the lowest winter ice in the Bering Sea.
Another key measure for the ice sheet is its age, and the old, thick look quickly disappears in the Arctic.
Last year old ice formed less than one percent of the ice pack. Over the past 33 years, the Arctic's very old glacier has fallen by 95%.
The Arctic continues to warm up to twice the speed of the rest of the planet, but the effects are far from being isolated and are now spreading in the medium latitudes.
This is because the warmer Arctic reduces the north-south temperature differential, which provides the main fuel for the polar stream or wind-powered river at levels where jet airplanes fly, NOAA said.
In this warming environment, the flow of jets became more wavy, a model that "allows warm air to penetrate the north and cold air in order to sink further south than when the jet is strong and relatively straight" , the report said.
Scientists already see evidence that this changing stream of jet can cause extreme storms.
Examples include "the North Pole Wave in the autumn of 2017, a swarm of severe winter storms in the eastern states in 2018, and the extreme cold outbreak in Europe in March 2018, known as the" Beast of the East. "
REINDEER, SEA LIFE
Meanwhile, warmer temperatures in the Arctic cause devastation of the Arctic ecosystem, destroying reindeer and caribou populations, which allows harmful algal blooms to move north and nasty marine life, reports the report that is already 13 years old.
"Significant concentrations of toxins in algae are found in the tissues of Arctic shells, seals, walruses, whales and other marine organisms," he said.
Although ice melting has released more land for grazing, the caribou and wild reindeer herds in the Arctic Tundra have fallen by 56% over the past two decades, reducing populations from 4.7 million to 2.1 million.
"The long-term warming trend may affect some of the most magnificent animals in the Arctic," said Howard Epstein, professor of ecology at the University of Virginia.
Scientists attribute the decline in the increased frequency of drought that affects the quality of the tundra as well as the longer and hotter summers that can lead to more parasites.
Another new focus of the report included the emerging threat of marine microplates, which scientists found to accumulate in the Arctic at higher concentrations than elsewhere in the world.
"This pollution – from plastics produced and disposed of in more populated areas of the world – is likely to travel by ocean currents to the Arctic," said Karen Frey, Geography Professor at Clark University.
Microplastic pollution has increased over the last decade and is a concern because sea birds and marine life can swallow debris, get them sick and interfere with the main source of food and income for the people who consume them.