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19 December 2013 12:36 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Five federally funded optical and radio telescopes in the United States could be forced to shut down over the next 3...
A 2-year budget agreement pushes back the threat of sequestration but leaves scientists still wondering how much money...
After a decade away from physics, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California,...
Computer scientists and others have teamed up to persuade the 117 state parties to the Convention on Certain...
The swine flu pandemic of late 2009 had a peculiar aftereffect in parts of Europe: a spike in children being diagnosed...
After 20 years of trying, researchers have finally convicted massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia as the culprit in...
- 19 December 2013 12:36 pm , Vol. 342 , #6165
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ScienceShot: Arctic Warming Twice as Fast as Rest of World
6 August 2013 3:45 pm
For the 23rd year, researchers have compiled a “state of the climate” report—and as report cards go, it’s not a good one. Using data from satellites, buoys, and weather stations worldwide, 384 scientists from 52 countries looked at various trends in temperature, precipitation, sea ice, and greenhouse gas concentrations, to name a few. Atmospheric concentrations of planet-warming carbon dioxide reached a record 392.6 parts per million in 2012, the researchers report online today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Last year also posted records for carbon dioxide emissions (including an estimated 9.7 billion metric tons of carbon), the heat-trapping effect of major greenhouse gases, including CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide (up 32% since 1990), and sea-level rise (up an average of 68 millimeters globally since 1993). The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the world, the researchers note, and accordingly the effects there are particularly pronounced. In September, the area covered by Arctic sea ice (image) reached a new low of 3.4 million square kilometers—an area about twice the size of Alaska and a whopping 18% below the previous record set in 2007. June snow cover on land in the Arctic (a climate measure that’s now declining faster than sea ice) also reached a new low in 2012, and permafrost temperatures in northernmost Alaska reached new highs. Overall, 2012 was one of the 10 warmest years on record—and wasn’t warmer thanks to the lack of an El Niño. (That climate phenomenon results when sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific climb more than 0.5°C above normal for an extended period, triggering changes in weather patterns and generally boosting global temperatures in the process.)