In November 2016 the United Nations confirmed that the current year was the hottest one on record, bringing along devastating climate effects. The same day, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released findings of its own. NASA reported that an ice pack the size of Florida, located around the Barents and Kara Seas off of Russia, had melted away in just ten days. According to NASA’s climate monitor, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder detected a cyclone bringing warm air from the North Atlantic into parts of the polar region in December 2015. These warm winds raised the temperature 10 degrees Celsius higher than normal for the polar ice region. At a time of the year when the region normally experiences increased ice, just the opposite occurred due to the warm wind, resulting in a loss of nearly 10% of the concentration of sea ice in the Barents and Kara Seas.
Although arctic regions of Russia continue to experience increases in temperature, ranging 6 to 7 degrees Celsius above the long term average, the surrounding areas are also experiencing fluxes in temperature. Russia along with Alaska and northeast Canada are all experiencing an increase of 3 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures. As temperatures continue to rise around polar regions it is unclear what future years will bring to the ever-warming area. Alek Petty of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center commented, “Maybe in the coming years, if we start with a thinner winter ice pack we’ll see extreme events like these cause even bigger melt-outs across the Arctic.” With sea levels rising as a result of massive glaciers melting, storms like the warm winter cyclones documented by NASA not only melt preexisting ice sheets but also make it increasingly difficult for ice to rebuild during the only time of year it is anticipated to do so.
Corporate media seems to has deliberately chosen to brush aside climate reports like these conducted by NASA. Nowhere could this report be located on any of the largest corporate media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News.
Maria-José Viñas, “Extremely Warm 2015-’16 Winter Cyclone Weakened Arctic Sea Ice Pack,” NASA, November 14, 2016, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/extremely-warm-2015-16-winter-cyclone-weakened-arctic-sea-ice-pack.
“Arctic Ice Pack the Size of Florida Melted after ‘Extreme Cyclone,” RT News, November 15, 2016, https://www.rt.com/viral/367040-nasa-arctic-melt-barents/
Student Researcher: Nadine Magallanes (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)