New temperature records reached in the Arctic

Frederic Hauge, leder i Bellona, foran seismikkskipet Geo Pacific, som startet å skyte utenfor Vesterålen på mandag.
(Foto: Tone Foss Aspevoll/Bellona)

Publish date: March 9, 2016

This week scientists voiced the alarming news of abnormally high temperatures in the Artic region. - I fear that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change might have underestimated global warming, reacts Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

Just before New Year’s the temperature at the North Pole rose to around zero degrees. This is thirty degrees warmer than normal temperatures at this time of year. According to the Norwegian Polar Institute the arctic ice has never been less widespread. Additionally, the Norwegian national broadcasting,, stated that the level of sea ice measured last month was the lowest ever measured in January.

This frightens me. With these new observations I fear that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) might have underestimated global warming. Climate change might accelerate even faster than expected, hence the measures taken to reduce emissions are far from sufficient, concludes Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

Hauge emphasises the fact that when many scientists have to agree on a certain issue, the conclusions might be the smallest denominator of the agreed conclusions. The consequence might therefore be that the IPCC’s conclusions are too modest and that even more stringent measures are required.

Worries that the IPCC conclusions have been too modest

– An increasing number of highly recognised climate scientists that Bellona cooperates with, are expressing the same worries. Many highly-ranked institutions conclude that there is an even more pressing need for climate action than what the IPCC has expressed, argues Hauge.

The IPCC includes only what is scientifically proven. As there are uncertainties concerning the effects of the slow moving processes such as melting of ice, marshlands and tundra areas, these have to a small extent been considered in the Panel’s final conclusions.

– We can expect some uncomfortable adjustments in the IPCC conclusions in the upcoming years, however we must see the urgency now already. This makes me even more motivated to contribute to solving the climate problem, says Hauge.

2015 became the warmest year ever measured. The difference from the last record measured was the longest ever. Some of it is caused by the weather phenomenon El Niño, however NASA clearly underlines that the main cause is human activity.

– This should worry us, adds Hauge.

We have to go carbon-negative

An additional concern associated with higher temperatures is that nature itself will emit larger amounts of CO2. Today a large part of the CO2 is stored in the oceans, in permafrost and in vegetation. In case nature emits more CO2 than it absorbs, the temperature rise can increase substantially. Hauge sees only one solution to avoid catastrophic consequences of global warming: we need to get carbon-negative solutions off the ground as fast as possible.

By combusting waste and biomass and then capturing and storing the CO2 emitted, one would remove CO­2 from the atmosphere. This is the only solution if the global community really wants to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, concludes Hauge.