Finland is warming fast—faster than scientists ever predicted and at nearly twice the rate of any other country on Earth—according to new research from the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Meteorological Society. The researchers found that over the past 166 years Finland’s average monthly temperatures increased by two degrees Celsius, whereas temperatures over the rest of the planet have increased by only .8 degrees Celsius on average.
In general, sub-Arctic countries are all warming faster than the rest of the world. This isn’t surprising to some, who expect the rate of warming at the poles to increase faster than in other areas of the world. The fact that the coldest places are warming faster isn’t that much of a mystery. According to ZME Science, ice acts like an insulating cover that reflects the sun and keeps the water below cold. The result is that the more ice that is lost to melting, the more the surface absorbs the heat instead of reflecting it back to space. Ice-free parts of the ocean now absorb much more heat than they used to, so when air temperatures drop in the fall and winter, the heat is released into the air, moderating the temperature and frustrating skiers everywhere.
“You would expect that the temperatures in the north would be rising faster than the global average,” Ari Laaksonen, professor in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland and a co-author of the study told Scientific American. “But [researchers] expected a rate that was 50 percent faster; Finland’s temperature is rising by almost 100 percent.”
In order to determine the rate of warming from 1847 to 2013, researchers used an “advanced statistical time series approach to figure out what changes in temperature were due to natural variability and what changes represented a long-term trend.” The rate of warming, for example, increased from .2 degrees Celsius per decade to .4 degrees Celsius per decade after the “1960’s when the effects of the massive energy boom following World War II could be seen,” indicating that the warming is “predominantly man-made.”
The study is also consistent with data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. NASA researchers found that countries in the Northern Hemisphere had an average temperature increase of 0.93 C, and latitudes around 60 degrees north or above had an average temperature increase of 1.8 C, according to Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS and principal investigator for the GISS Model E Earth System Model.
Calling the trend “Arctic Amplification,” Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado warns that global warming is real. “When you remove the sea ice cover, you remove insulation.” Warmer winters will affect not only the habitat of animals like reindeer or caribou in the north, but also industry, particularly forestry. Without ice roads, logging and other industry — like oil in the far north of Alaska — it will be almost impossible to transport needed supplies and logs to and from those regions.