The Arctic is Warming Four Times Faster Than the Global Average

American Geophysical Union, December 13

Previous scientific studies and reports may have underestimated the degree of warming in the Arctic resulting from greenhouse gas emissions to-date. The Arctic warms faster than any other region on Earth due to “Arctic amplification” — a phenomenon in which rising temperatures create feedback loops that increase the warming experienced in far northern regions. Previous research summaries indicated that the Arctic was warming by twice (IPCC AR6, 2021), or at most three times (AMAP, 2021) the global mean. However, a new study — led by a team of researchers overseeing several prominent global temperature records — contends that the Arctic actually is warming four times faster than the global mean; in stark contrast with the conventional wisdom that the Arctic is “only” warming around twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Several factors may contribute to this widespread underestimation of Arctic warming. While many scientific studies typically label any region above 60°N as “Arctic,” the true definition of the Arctic is defined by the Earth’s tilt and position of the Arctic Circle (at 66.6°N). Similarly, the selection of time periods over which the rate of warming is calculated plays a critical role in these estimations. Human activity is undeniably changing the Arctic at an unprecedented rate. Authors emphasize the importance of curbing global carbon emissions to slow Arctic warming and help protect the multitude of Arctic ecosystems and indigenous communities, as well as the stability of the global climate system.

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Dec. 20, 2021      Updated Jul. 12, 2022 3:26 pm