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World News

Svalbard: Climate change is warming the archipelago at a faster rate

Accelerated warming in the Svalbard archipelago offers insight into the current and future impact of climate change in the Arctic and globally.

The Arctic region is warming at a much faster rate than the global average, with temperatures in Svalbard rising six times faster than the rest of the world.

“It will continue to warm at a rapid rate,” Rasmus Benestad, a scientist with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, told CTV’s Your Morning program on Monday.

Benestad said the Arctic is warming faster due to retreating sea ice exposing warmer seawater below, creating a chain reaction called polar amplification.

In July 2020, Svalbard recorded its highest ever temperature of 21.7°C. Prior to this, the islands normally experienced temperatures between 5 and 8°C for this time of year.

Climate change has affected life in the region, with Benestad reporting extreme rainfall in early 2012 and a deadly avalanche in December 2015.

Along with melting permafrost, shrinking sea ice will cause global sea levels to rise.

“So it depends on what we actually do in terms of global carbon emissions and fossil fuel use,” Benestad said. “But for sure we have to adapt to the changes in the Svalbard region.”

Watch the full Rasmus Benestad interview at the top of the article

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