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CO2 Budget Depletion

21 Feb 2023 | Arctic Circle

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)



The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.

Greenland rate of ice loss
13 million l/s
on average
13 million tonnes/s
on average
Arctic Sea Ice Extent
598,749 km²
below 1981-2010 average on 27-May-2024
231,177 mi²
below 1981-2010 average on 27-May-2024
Arctic Amplification
4 times
faster than global average
Arctic 66N+ Wildfire emissions
46.05 megatonnes CO₂e
CO₂e emissions in 2024 so far
Arctic Air Quality (PM2.5)
2.66 microgram per cubic meter
on 28-May-2024
Global mean Sea Level
since 1993