Study: Arctic is warmer, will remain so

Dec. 2, 2011 at 7:15 PM

HANOVER, N.H., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The arctic polar region's climate has warmed up in the last five years and the change is likely to stick around as a "new normal," U.S. scientists say.

A team of 121 scientists from 14 nations concluded the arctic climate has reached a turning point, ScienceNews.org reported Thursday.

Enough data have been collected "to indicate a shift in the Arctic Ocean system since 2006," said Jacqueline Richter-Menge of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. "This shift is characterized by the persistent decline in the thickness and summer extent of sea-ice cover and by a warmer, less salty upper ocean."

Since the arctic is a factor in driving climate around the world, changes there have impacts elsewhere, Richter-Mange said.

Once a warming trend starts the loss of ice built up over many years "we seldom go back to where we were before," James Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

"We've got a new normal," Don Perovich of CRREL said.

"The past five years have had the five smallest September ice extents," Perovich said, "showing that Arctic sea ice has not recovered from the large decrease observed in 2007."

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