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Report: Arctic Ice Melt Spurs Warming
According to the latest edition of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) annual Arctic report card, drastically receding Arctic sea ice may alter the climate and weather balance for the entire planet.
"Basically, with less sea ice, we're messing with the thermostat for the whole globe," said Richard Spinrad, assistant administrator of the NOAA.
The report comes in the wake of findings that the Arctic may be virtually free of ice during non-winter months within the next 10-20 years, potentially leading to climbing temperatures worldwide.
As seasonal ice melts during the summer months, darker, sunlight-absorbing water is exposed, intensifying global warming's effects. Without ice cover for much of the year, these effects will deepen, creating a formidable feedback loop and spurring organisms ever northward while affecting circulation patterns.
"Climate change is happening faster in the Arctic than any other place on Earth – and with wide-ranging consequences," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "This year's Arctic Report Card underscores the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas pollution and adapting to climate changes already under way."