We all know the Earth is warming because humans are emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We've also heard that the Arctic is doing horribly, hitting record sea ice lows for several of the past few months, thanks to recent hot weather that's connected to a longer-term warming trend. The polar bear populations are projected to decline 30 per cent by 2050. There might not be any late-summer sea ice by the 2030s.
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With less than two weeks remaining in 2016, we can say with near-certainty that it's the hottest year on record (the only thing that could pull 12 months of above-average temperatures down now is if our sun suddenly vanished, and in that case we've got bigger problems). And if the north pole is any indicator, freak hot weather isn't going away. In fact, it seems to be getting freakier.
Video: As you grow older, you start realising that you might never get to see certain cities or visit some places around the world. Like, I'm fairly confident that I'll never visit the Arctic. And, whatever, that's OK, it's too cold up there anyway. But my oh my, is it beautiful. It looks almost unreal — the white of the ice looks completely pristine and the structures just look untouched.
While working at a remote weather station in the Russian Arctic might sound like a lot of fun, the reality is apparently far grimmer. In addition to the cold, the isolation and the possibility of literally falling off a cliff thanks to climate change, researchers have to deal with unruly locals, like the dozen or so polar bears currently "besieging" scientists on Troynoy Island in Russia's Great Arctic State Nature Reserve.
Siberia, land of frozen lion cubs and inexplicable craters, is in the news again this week thanks to yet another wacky natural phenomenon. Is the ground supposed to bounce like that? Not really, but there's a likely explanation: Lots and lots of gas.
If your life has felt like a hot mess this year, you're not alone. Same goes for the Arctic, which month after month has seen its ice cover contract to new lows. By late September, Arctic sea ice may reach its lowest extent since satellite record-keeping began.