According to a report in The Atlantic, at Cape Morris Jesup, the northernmost tip of Greenland, the mercury is reading 43 degrees Fahrenheit — 50 degrees higher than the norm for this time of year. It’s easy to read and then say, “Ho hum. Guess I’ll go check my Facebook page or Twitter feed.”
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University tells The Guardian. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning” and “it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane.”
A graph prepared by The Guardian makes the seriousness of the emergency abundantly clear.
“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns. What has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least, we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”
The danger now is what is known as a feedback loop. Higher temperatures in the Arctic lead to less sea ice, which leads to more of the sun’s warmth being absorbed by the oceans which leads to more melting. That melting leads to more methane emissions as parts of Greenland and the Arctic that have been under the ice shelf for millenia become exposed to the warm atmosphere above which leads to more heat trapping gases in the atmosphere and more melting.