News spotlight: Ice sheet warming at highest rate in 1,000 years

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<p><em></em><em>Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares a recent news story that you should know about.</em></p>
<p><em></em><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">One of the coldest regions of the planet is experiencing its highest temperatures in at least a millennium, according to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05517-z" target="_blank">new study</a> in the journal Nature.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">By drilling deep into the Greenland ice sheet, one of the world&rsquo;s oldest and largest, researchers were able to estimate that temperatures between 2001 and 2011 were about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit) higher than the 20th century average &mdash; a concerning milestone as <a href="https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement#:~:text=Its%20goal%20is%20to%20limit,neutral%20world%20by%20mid%2Dcentury." target="_blank">nations work to limit</a> global temperature rise to that very same degree.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">While grim, the findings are in line with what&rsquo;s becoming clearer and clearer &mdash; Earth&rsquo;s frozen regions have rapidly warmed since the industrial revolution, barreling towards a future of slow, but sure, sea level rise, <a href="https://twitter.com/chelseaeharvey" target="_blank">Chelsea Harvey</a> reported for <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/temperatures-in-one-of-earths-coldest-corners-are-the-highest-in-1-000-years/" target="_blank">E&amp;E News</a>.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">Though she expected higher temperatures in light of global warming, glaciologist and lead author of the study Maria H&ouml;rhold told E&amp;E News that researchers &ldquo;were surprised by how evident this (temperature) difference really was.&rdquo;</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">To analyze 1,000 years of climate history, Harvey writes, researchers drilled enormous ice cores from the ice sheet, which holds trapped air bubbles and other chemical signatures &mdash; essentially, a time capsule of what the climate was like when the water froze. The data continues until 2011 and 2012, when the cores were removed from the ice sheet.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">As climate change accelerates, some areas of the planet are experiencing greater and faster warming than others. Research shows the coldest regions appear to be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-022-00498-3#:~:text=In%20recent%20decades%2C%20the%20warming,as%20the%20globe%20on%20average." target="_blank">warming the fastest</a>, with numerous studies reporting that temperatures in the Arctic are rising two, or even three, times faster than the global average. In one example, amid a record-breaking melt in <a href="http://nsidc.org/greenland-today/2021/08/rain-at-the-summit-of-greenland/" target="_blank">August of 2021</a>, bewildered researchers on the summit of Greenland&rsquo;s ice sheet witnessed the first rainfall in recorded history.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">Warmer temperatures have accelerated ice melts. And while estimating the level of ice melt is more difficult than documenting temperature change, the study&rsquo;s researchers say the rates of melting ice are likely similarly &ldquo;unprecedented&rdquo; over the last millennium. This closes the loop on a grim cycle: Increased ice melt has nowhere to go but the ocean, in turn <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/global-warming/Ice-melt-and-sea-level-rise" target="_blank">raising global sea levels</a>.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">As sea levels rise and threaten to devastate coastal communities and habitats, people around the world need ways to adapt. Nature provides answers.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">For example, m</span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">angrove forests, which hug coastlines throughout the tropics, offer a <a href="https://www.conservation.org/blog/6-things-you-need-to-know-about-mangroves-but-never-thought-to-ask">powerful defense</a> against the impacts of a warming planet. These natural buffers can help <a href="https://www.conservation.org/blog/new-science-mangrove-protection-caribbean-coral-loss-dam-development-and-more">millions of people in coastal communities</a> become more resilient to sea-level rise, blunting storm surges and floods. In fact, <a href="https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/entities/publication/10cae492-246f-5672-8ada-3ef0b3a20035" target="_blank">a study</a>&nbsp;of developing countries subject to storms found that mangroves could reduce the coastal areas impacted by storm surge by up to 50 percent.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">Moreover, mangroves are <a target="_blank" href="https://www.conservation.org/docs/default-source/publication-pdfs/cispata-bay-mangroves-2022-impact-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2b5b6f4d_3">climate superstars</a>. In a single square mile, their dense tangle of roots can stash away as much climate-warming carbon as the annual emissions of 90,000 cars.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;">Read the full story <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/temperatures-in-one-of-earths-coldest-corners-are-the-highest-in-1-000-years/" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></p>
<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"></span><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"><strong>Further reading:&nbsp;</strong></span></p>
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<li><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: inherit; text-align: inherit; text-transform: inherit; white-space: inherit; word-spacing: normal; font-family: inherit;"><a href="https://www.conservation.org/blog/what-on-earth-is-climate-adaptation">What on Earth is &lsquo;climate adaptation&rsquo;?</a></span></li>
<li><a href="https://www.conservation.org/blog/in-colombia-a-new-way-to-protect-mangroves-takes-root">In Colombia, a new way to protect mangroves takes root</a></li>
<li><a href="https://www.conservation.org/blog/climate-crisis-pushing-oceans-to-the-brink-report-warns">Climate crisis pushing oceans to the brink, report warns</a></li>
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<p><em>Mary Kate McCoy is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? <a href="https://www.conservation.org/act/subscribe">Sign up for email updates.</a> Also, </em><a href="https://www.conservation.org/act"><em>please consider supporting our critical work.</em></a></p>
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