Temperatures in the Arctic are growing so fast that the algorithms of the US agency that follows them have believed an error.
An algorithm from the US Ocean and Atmospheric Observing Agency (NOAA) was caught unawares by an unusually high-temperature record at the Utqiaġvik weather station in Alaska. Temperatures so high that the algorithm considered that it was an error and did not report any data for the month of November. In your opinion, do these high temperatures translate into an acceleration of global warming?
Mikaa Mered is professor of geopolitics and geoeconomics of the polar worlds
Mikaa Mered: I stand behind the opinion that is very widely accepted in the community of polar climatologists, including in China and Russia: we have entered a new climate era in the Arctic, a new normality (“new normal”) . Arctic climate change is accelerating at a much faster pace than other parts of the world. However, they are not uniform: oceanic, coastal and continental climates experience different upheavals. Most Arctic areas, particularly coastal areas, are warming up, or even greening up, at ever greater speed, due to the combined effect of several human-induced and non-human factors that create a vicious circle that all surveys show and document perfectly.
However, some areas of the Arctic are stagnating or even cooling slightly. Similarly, it is not because the Arctic is warming that all observed climate changes are manifested by increased heat, especially in the sub-Arctic and intermediate areas. Climatologists and even the general public now observe every winter in the United States, and some winters in Europe and northern China: polar vortexes appear and bring very cold episodes in usually temperate zones, even to Texas or Portugal. That’s why we need to talk about climate change rather than global warming. So in summary, yes, there is a consensus in the community: these temperatures are a concrete and irrefutable expression of accelerating climate change, at least in the Arctic.
Does this incident also reflect a lack of resources allocated to NOAA and other such institutions around the world?
This incident does not directly reflect a lack of resources provided to NOAA but highlights its strategic importance as the Trump Administration wishes to lower its budget by 18% in 2018. Contrary to what can often be read on social networks, measuring climate change is not just a way for the scientific community to justify its existence, or a tool for governments to influence the public! The importance of organizations such as NOAA, or IFREMER and SHOM in France for example, is crucial because the country or countries that do not understand, do not measure and fail to anticipate climate change will find themselves in great strategic difficulty in the coming decades. Without a strong measure of climate change and its inclusion in public policy, it is the entire infrastructure of a country, an economy or a capital region that can end up at the same time. stop. Not measuring these changes is a strategic risk for armies, especially navies and coastguards, who depend on a good understanding of ocean dynamics. Not funding research in this area is preventing oneself from anticipating these upheavals by investing in adapted public infrastructures or by private innovation. In short, it is simply to be at the mercy of other actors who, they, understand climate change much better and know how to derive a political advantage, economic or even military futures. This is the strategy of China, which invests in climate research ever more, first with a defensive approach; and today, with the disinvestment of the Trump administration, starts talking about offensive advantage
In the face of alarming reports as well as the public and political interest in observing the poles and global warming at both international and national levels?
Paradoxically, the public and political interest for the strategic stakes of the clusters remain very low, including in France. Indeed, if the theme of the preservation of the environment is a theme that politicians are mastering more and more – as evidenced by the last One Planet Summit or the Climate Finance Day organized in France – the investment for research, the education and innovation related to the clusters and the observation of climate change is still not up to the strategic stakes.
There is a clear awareness at the level of the armed forces and in some local authorities, especially in the overseas territories, but it is still difficult to translate into national budgets. But above all, it is clear that the very interest of the media sphere for the observation of the poles is more than weak. Just look at the fate that is reserved for Ségolène Royal, the new ambassador of the poles, whose media speak only to make fun of or to treat the polar question by the unusual, the anecdote or to evoke an exaggerated alarmist information. France has in 2016 a “National Road Map on the Arctic” which Ms Royal is responsible for animating the implementation but no one questions on this roadmap, the sneer is more sell. The day when the media sphere will return seriously to these subjects, perhaps the politicians and the public will be interested in them, with all the seriousness that the question deserves; and this is also valid in the United States, the United Kingdom or elsewhere. Again, China, aware of the strategic opportunity that represents the disengagement of other countries, paradoxically shows the example …