A new study published in at the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder found that Canadian arctic temperatures have reached their highest levels in 44,000 years and perhaps the highest in 120,000 years.
The study is the first to show that current Arctic warmth exceeds peak heat there in the early Holocene, the name for the current geological period, which began about 11,700 years ago. During this "peak" Arctic warmth, solar radiation was about 9 percent greater than today, according to the study.
Miller and his colleagues gauged Arctic temperatures by looking at gas bubbles trapped in ice cores (cylinders drilled from the ice that show layers of snow laid down over time) taken from the region, which allows scientists to reconstruct past temperature and levels of precipitation. They paired this with radiocarbon dating of clumps of moss taken from a melting ice cap on Canada's Baffin Island. Their analysis shows that these plants have been trapped in the ice for at least 44,000 years, and perhaps as long as 120,000 years. Taken together, that data suggest temperatures in the region haven't been this high since perhaps as long as 120,000 years ago, according to the study.
That we're warming the atmosphere is nothing new. It is, in fact, basic physics that putting greenhouse gases will trap heat. But what is new and always worth remembering is just how drastic the change is we're creating. As we have been warned again and again, we must put a price on carbon to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to cleaner energy sources if we are to avoid irreversible environmental degradation and economic catastrophe.