Arctic Waters Warm Alarmingly, Delaying Winter

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


20071211_pid38532_aid38531_warmarcticwaters_w800.jpg

We’re hearing about the record-breaking iceless summer of 2007 in the Arctic, worse even than it first seemed. Now we’re learning that these ice-free waters have deprived the Arctic of much of its natural insulation, enabling sea surface temperatures to rise 5-degrees C above average in one place this year—a high never before observed, says Michael Steele, oceanographer with the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

Superwarming surface waters affect how thick ice grows back in the winter, as well as its ability to withstand melting the next summer. Already this year the winter freeze-up in some areas is two months later than usual, boding poorly for next summer. The ocean warming might also be contributing to changes on land, including novel plant growth in the coastal Arctic tundra.

Steele is lead author of “Arctic Ocean surface warming trends over the past 100 years,” accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones’ environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate