Dec 15, 2015

Record Arctic Air Temperatures Are Wreaking Havoc on Walruses and Everything Else in the Region

Greenland
by
Zoe Schlanger
,
Newsweek
In the warming Arctic, lack of sea ice has forced walruses to swarm in groups of tens of thousands on land in recent years—NOAA says this is creating “problems such as overcrowding which has led to stampedes that have killed calves.” Photo: Fabian Bimmer, Reuters
In the warming Arctic, lack of sea ice has forced walruses to swarm in groups of tens of thousands on land in recent years—NOAA says this is creating “problems such as overcrowding which has led to stampedes that have killed calves.” Photo: Fabian Bimmer, Reuters

These days, the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on earth. Air temperatures over the Arctic have risen more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit since records began in 1900, and were fully 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above average this last year, making 2015 the hottest air temperature year in the Arctic ever recorded, according to this year’s peer-reviewed “report card” on the region, put out by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in collaboration with 70 authors from 10 countries...[One] of the most important measures of climatic change in the Arctic is how much ice manages to stay frozen over the summer months. This “old ice,” which has lasted four years or more, is thick and stable, and in 1985 accounted for 20 percent of the ice pack. In 2015, it accounted for just 3 percent