Arctic Circle Temperature Anomaly
As a whole, the Arctic is warming 4x faster than the rest of the planet, but this warming isn’t uniform, some areas are warming faster. Warmth has been focussed around the Barents Sea region including Svalbard. Svalbard, for example, is approximately 7x faster. Svalbard’s main town, Longyearbyen, may even be the fastest warming city in the world right now (Norwegian Polar Institute), with this past year extending that trajectory.
The average temperature last summer was 7.4°C, up from the 5.5°C average from 1991-2020. In November, temperatures in the northern archipelago at times exceeded those in Norway’s capital, Oslo. In 2015, an avalanche hit Longyearbyen, leading to the islands’ first two deaths attributed to the climate change.
Today, the town remains on edge with some residents feeling unsafe in their homes—not because of the region’s infamous polar bears but from climate events that have spun beyond control (personal interviews).
Around Svalbard, and throughout the Arctic, we are rapidly losing sea ice. In the past 40 years, summer sea ice has lost 75% of its volume. This loss of sea ice though doesn’t just impact Svalbard or even the Arctic. By the end of this century, the loss of summer sea ice associated with just a 3°C warming is expected to contribute to US$70trillion in global disasters around the world.
To understand how this fragile region is the world’s control centre, check out the Global Risks page.
Visual: Zachary Labe @ZLabe (Twitter)