The AARI scientists and their colleagues from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, St. Petersburg State University and the Polar Geophysical Institute conducted a joint study. The conclusions were preceded by a large-scale analysis of the data within 1981-2020, distinguished by an unprecedented spatial coverage. The data were obtained by the ground-based observations and the materials received from the satellites corresponding to the areas of Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land. The researchers studied a wide range of variables, from the surface air temperature, the sea surface temperature and the salinity up to the ice melt rate.
As a result, the scientists found peculiar warming poles, i.e. the places with the most intense temperature rises in recent decades. The highest warming rates were recorded in the northern and eastern parts of the Barents region. Over the period under the study, they were twice as high as it was previously thought, and increased markedly over the past twenty years (from 2001 to 2020).
Warming in the Arctic occurs mainly due to the cold season of the year. In the fall and winter, the temperature increase was as much as 4°C per decade. In summer, the temperatures were either stable or rising at a moderate rate of 0 to 0.7°C per decade.
The scientists call exceptional the regional warming rates in the Barents Sea northern part. They are 2-2.5 times the average Arctic warming and 5-7 times the global warming rate.
According to the scientists, the Norwegian island of Karl XII in the northeast of Spitsbergen archipelago can be considered as the poles of warming: there was recorded an annual average temperature rise of 2.7°C per decade and 4°C in the fall, and the Russian island Heiss of Franz Josef Land archipelago had a rise of 2.2°C per decade and 3.8°C in winter.
The AARI specialists emphasise that warming in the Arctic closely relates to the increase of the sea surface temperature and a significant reduction of the sea ice area. In different areas of the Barents Sea, this reduction occurs at different rates: the losses range from 7 to 25% per decade. In the period from the 1980s of the previous century up to the beginning of the 21st century, the average annual area of ice cover was about 550,000 square kilometres, and during the last twenty years, it decreased by 40%, and now it is about 330,000 square kilometres.