Arctic has warmed by 1.35°F in just a decade – as much as the rest of the planet in 137 years

Arctic has warmed up by 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit in just a decade – the same temperature increase that the rest of the planet has experienced in 137 YEARS, study claims

  • The Arctic has warmed 1.35°F (around 0.75°C) in the last 10 years, scientists say
  • The temperature rise is more than the whole of the Earth since the early 1880s
  • Melting Arctic ice would cause deadly weather in Northern Hemisphere

The North Polar Region has warmed almost as much in the last decade as the whole of the Earth in the last 137 years, according to a new study. 

The research paper claims the Arctic has warmed by 1.35°F (0.75°C) in 10 years, while Earth as a whole has warmed by around 1.44°F (0.8°C) since the start of the 1880s.

The new research paper, written by 15 international experts, predicts the effects of a 3.6°F (2°C) average global temperature rise – a milestone anticipated in the Paris Agreement. 

‘Many of the changes over the past decade are so dramatic they make you wonder what the next decade of warming will bring,’ said lead author Eric Post, a UC Davis professor of climate change ecology. 

‘If we haven’t already entered a new Arctic, we are certainly on the threshold.’ 

Ice melting in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago (pictured) off the north coast of Russia

As Earth approaches the dangerous 3.6°F (2°C) warming threshold, the Arctic and Antarctic may reach 7.2°F and 3.6°F mean annual warming, and 12.6°F and 5.4°F winter warming, respectively, they say.

The study illustrates what 3.6°F (2°C) of global warming could mean for the high latitudes: up to 12.6°F (7°C) warming for the Arctic and 5.4°F (3°C) warming for the Antarctic during some months of the year. 

Such a milestone would have catastrophic loss of land ice in the northern polar region, the researchers write, but the effects of which wouldn’t be local to the Arctic.

Study co-author Professor Michael Mann, of Penn State University, warned: ‘What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.’

The rapid melting of land ice in the Arctic would affect the mid-latitude of the northern hemisphere, or space between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer — which covers almost all of Europe and North America and huge swathes of Asia.

Consequences will include loss of vegetation, deadly heat waves, threats to wildlife, extreme weather and the loss of ‘traditional human livelihoods’.

The report, published in Science Advances, was compiled by a team of 15 researchers from around the world specialising in the areas of life, social political and Earth sciences.

While Antarctic temperatures have remained fairly stable compared to the Arctic, the researchers predict land ice loss in both the north and south Polar Regions will cause a three-metre rise in sea levels.

They warn that international cooperation will be key to adapting to expected changes, while measures to reduce carbon emissions are also ‘crucial’ to slow latitude warming.

Professor Post believes the Earth will reach the 3.6°F (2°C) warming milestone, as anticipated by the Paris Agreement.

‘But the Arctic is already there during some months of the year, and it could reach two degrees Celsius warming on an annual mean basis as soon as 25 years before the rest of the planet,’ he said.

The global average temperature is now about 1.98°F (1.1°C) above the pre-industrial era. According to a statement from the UN this week, we are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.

‘If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C [5.4°F] by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing,’ said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.


The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.

In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the US, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement.  

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission