The Past 5 Years Were the Arctic's Warmest on Record
The Arctic is still warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth, and the region's air temperatures in the past five years between 2014-2018 have exceeded all previous records since 1900, according to a peer-reviewed report released by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday.
The agency's 13th annual Arctic Report Card also concluded that 2018 was second only to 2016 in terms of the region's overall warmth.
Rising temperatures have resulted in rapid loss of sea ice."In 2018 Arctic sea ice remained younger, thinner, and covered less area than in the past. The 12 lowest extents in the satellite record have occurred in the last 12 years," the report said.
The annual @NOAA Arctic Report Card is available today for 2018. It discusses recent changes in the Arctic, extreme… https://t.co/kMFkopNEnN— Zack Labe (@Zack Labe)1544546835.0
This long-term warming trend has also resulted in "new issues ... that we weren't really anticipating," Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who presented the Arctic report card, said at a Tuesday interview at the American Geophysical Union conference in Washington.
For instance, NOAA scientists observed that melting sea ice has led to the increasing presence of harmful toxic algal blooms in the Arctic Ocean that threatens food sources.
The 2018 Arctic Report Card found the Arctic region had the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage on record.The map shows the age of sea ice in the Arctic ice pack in March 1985 (left) and March 2018 (right). Ice that is less than a year old is darkest blue. Ice that has survived at least 4 full yeNOAA / Climate.gov
Other noticeable changes driven by Arctic warming include declining terrestrial snow cover, the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lake ice and increasing summertime Arctic river discharge, the report revealed.
While the Arctic has become more green and opened more vegetation for grazing, NOAA pointed out that herd populations of caribou and wild reindeer across the tundra have declined by nearly 50 percent in the past two decades.
In the Bering Sea off Alaska's west coast, "ocean primary productivity levels in 2018 were sometimes 500 percent higher than normal levels and linked to a record low sea ice extent in the region for virtually the entire 2017/18 ice season," according to the report.
Bering Sea ice extent extremely low, tracking with last year & 2013 for lowest in early Dec. Chukchi Sea ice slowin… https://t.co/DyUEOoabOU— Rick Thoman (@Rick Thoman)1544541164.0
NOAA also warned that microplastic contamination is on the rise in the Arctic, posing a threat to seabirds and marine life that can ingest debris.
In response to the report card, conservation groups pointed out that the consequences of a warming Arctic go beyond the region.
"This is yet another stark reminder of climate change's indelible mark on our world. Warming temperatures are thawing permafrost and shrinking Arctic sea ice. These changes rob wildlife species of their habitat, and raise sea levels around the world, affecting communities from Nome to New Orleans," Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund's U.S. Arctic programs, said in an online statement.
Williams added, "The devastating hurricanes in the southeastern U.S. and deadly wildfires in California have shown that impacts of climate change are catastrophic and costly. We know those impacts are coming faster than expected, and we know that current efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are not enough to slow the train. The good news is it's not too late to correct the course. As leaders meet this week at the UN climate talks in Poland, we urge them to run, not crawl, towards reducing emissions and accelerating a clean energy transition. Our Earth, and all species that call it home, depend on it."
Watch this NOAA video about the Arctic Report Card:
Arctic Report Card 2018 www.youtube.com
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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