The world is heating up — and much more quickly than expected, a recent Arctic research report states.
"Arctic temperatures are rising faster than the global average," the Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic assessment states.
The report, released Tuesday at a conference in the United States, is compiled from a team of international researchers examining different aspects of the Arctic. Some of those key contributors include skilled professors from Winnipeg.
Dr. David Barber, a professor at the University of Manitoba specializing in Arctic sea ice and one of the authors of the report, said the changes in Arctic temperatures appear to be affecting the climate and weather patterns right down to the Equator.
"We’re still trying to figure out how exactly these processes work," Barber said.
Barber travels into the field for some of his research but is also able to use facilities at the University of Manitoba for his experiments.
The university is home to the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility, an outdoor complex with a seawater pool and a moveable roof that allows researchers to study the growth and melting of sea ice in controlled conditions. It’s the first facility of its kind in Canada.
"There’s many different ways we study these kinds of things, anywhere from in our laboratories on the U of M campus through to field stations around the Arctic," Barber said.
It’s this type of research that has contributed to the report, and it suggests there are issues that need to be addressed.
The report notes "the impacts of Arctic changes reach beyond the Arctic" and suggests the warming trends are set to continue for decades.
"The Arctic as we know it is being replaced by a warmer, wetter and more variable environment," it states. "This transformation has profound implications for people, resources and ecosystems worldwide."
The report warns the process of rising temperature is "locked into the climate system" and the world will continue to see changes through the middle of the current century. The rising temperatures are expected to cause the populations of Arctic wildlife to decline and cause the sea level to rise, among other impacts.
"There’s an urgency, an immediacy to what we’re doing," Barber said.
"It’s a wakeup call to the fact that we do have an existing problem… and if we don’t do something to get our greenhouse gas emissions down, our problems are going to get substantially worse after we get into the latter half of this century."
Barber said it’s very difficult to predict exactly how things will turn out if people don’t take action soon.