Daily Editorial Analysis for 18th August 2022

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Arctic warming

GS paper 3: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation
Important for
Prelims exam: Global warming, Arctic amplification
Mains exam: Arctic warming and its effect on monsoon
Finnish Meteorological Institute researchers published their study which suggests that the Arctic is heating four times faster than the rest of the planet.

Key observation of the study

The warming is more concentrated in the Eurasian part of the Arctic, where the Barents Sea north of Russia and Norway is warming at an alarming rate, which is seven times faster than the global average.

Arctic amplification

Global warming hastened due to anthropogenic forces since pre industrial times and has increased the planet’s average temperature by 1.1 degrees Celsius.
While changes are witnessed across the planet, any change in the surface air temperature and the net radiation balance tend to produce larger changes at the north and south poles. This phenomenon is known as polar amplification; these changes are more pronounced at the northern latitudes and are known as the Arctic amplification.

Causes of Arctic amplification

Causes of Arctic amplification
• Primary causes of this amplification includes:
o ice albedo feedback: Sea ice and snow have high albedo (measure of reflectivity of the surface), implying that they are capable of reflecting most of the solar radiation as opposed to water and land. In the Arctic’s case, global warming is resulting in diminishing sea ice. As the sea ice melts, the Arctic Ocean will be more capable of absorbing solar radiation, thereby driving the amplification.
o lapse rate feedback: The lapse rate or the rate at which the temperature drops with elevation decreases with warming.
o water vapour feedback: Water vapour feedback is the coupling between water vapour and surface air temperature in which a change in radiative forcing perturbs the surface air temperature, leading to a change in water vapour, which could then amplify or weaken the initial temperature change.
o ocean heat transport: The ocean contributes to regulating the Earth’s climate through its ability to transport heat from the equator to the poles.

What the early studies suggests

• Studies have shown that the Arctic was warming at twice the global rate prior to the beginning of the 21st century.
• In 2019 IPCC released a ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ report, which said that the “Arctic surface air temperature has likely increased by more than double the global average over the last two decades.”
• In 2021, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) warned that the Arctic has warmed three times quicker than the planet.
o The report also said that the average annual temperature in the region increased by 3.1 degrees Celsius compared to the 1 degree Celsius for the planet.
• Recent studies have shown that the mean Arctic amplification saw steep changes in 1986 and 1999, when the ratio reached 4.0, implying four times faster heating than the rest of the planet.

Consequences of Arctic warming

The causes and consequences of Arctic amplification are cyclical, a cause of today can be a consequence of tomorrow.
• The Greenland ice sheet is melting at an alarming rate.
o The unusual summer temperatures this year resulted in a melt of 6 billion tonnes of ice sheet per day, amounting to a total of 18 billion tonnes in a span of three days, enough to cover West Virginia in a foot of water.
o Greenlandic ice sheet holds the second largest amount of ice, after Antarctica, and therefore it is crucial for maintaining the sea level.
o In 2019, this was the single biggest cause for the rise in the sea level, about 1.5 metres.
o If the sheet melts completely, the sea level would rise by seven metres, capable of subsuming island countries and major coastal cities.
• The warming of the Arctic Ocean region which causes the acidification of water and changes in the salinity levels, are impacting biodiversity, including the marine species and the dependent species.
• The warming is also increasing the incidence of rainfall which is affecting the availability and accessibility of lichens to the reindeer.
• The Arctic amplification is causing widespread starvation and death among the Arctic fauna.
• The permafrost in the Arctic is thawing and in turn releasing carbon and methane which are among the major greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
• The thaw and the melt will also release the long dormant bacteria and viruses that were trapped in the permafrost and can potentially give rise to diseases.

Impact on india

• Changing Arctic can have an impact on the monsoons in the subcontinent.
• The link between Indian monsoon and Arctic amplification is growing in importance due to the extreme weather events the country faces, and the heavy reliance on rainfall for water and food security
• A report published in 2021 found that the reduced sea ice in the Barents-¬Kara sea region can lead to extreme rainfall events in the latter half of the monsoons(in September and October).


• IndARC is India’s first underwater moored observatory in the Arctic region.
• It was deployed in 2014 at Kongsfjorden fjord, Svalbard, Norway which is midway between Norway and the North Pole.
• Its goal is to study the Arctic climate and its influence on the monsoon.

• ‘State of Global Climate in 2021’ Report by WMO suggests that sea level along the Indian coast is rising faster than the global average rate. And primary reasons for this rise is the melting of sea ice in the polar regions, especially the Arctic.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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