Yesterday on the blog I noted that “what was deemed impossible just months ago now seems highly probable or even normal”.

OK, I was talking about the financial chaos and the volatile oil price, but the same could be said of climate change.

So the alarming news from today’s Independent newspaper is that – a full decade before it was predicted to happen – scientists have found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a much faster rate than the rest of the world.

Scientists have found evidence of what is known as “Arctic Amplification”, which is where air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean.

The new research will be presented later today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. It will show that Arctic amplification has been under way for the past five years, and it will continue to intensify Arctic warming for the foreseeable future.

The lead researcher, Julienne Stroeve, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Colorado, said “The observed autumn warming that we’ve seen over the Arctic Ocean, not just this year but over the past five years or so, represents Arctic amplification, the notion that rises in surface air temperatures in response to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will be larger in the Arctic than elsewhere over the globe”.

Temperature readings for this October were significantly higher than normal across the entire Arctic region – between 3C and 5C above average – but some areas were dramatically higher. In the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, for instance, near-surface air temperatures were more than 7C higher than normal for this time of year.

The findings, say the Independent “will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.”

Sobering indeed. In so many ways 2009 will be the critical year on climate change. ..

It’s not just the Iraqi’s who want to give President Bush the boot as quickly as possible. Its time for real radical action!

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