Arctic warming four times faster than rest of Earth: study
A team of scientists on an Arctic expedition in the Barents Sea in Norway. /CFP

A team of scientists on an Arctic expedition in the Barents Sea in Norway. /CFP

The Earth's Arctic has warmed almost four times faster than the rest of the planet over the last 40 years, according to research published on Thursday.

The study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, revealed that on average showed the Arctic had warmed 0.75C per decade.

This implies climate models are underestimating the rate of polar heating though there is a consensus that the Arctic is warming quickly.

There are, however, differences due to the timeframe studied and the definition of what constitutes the geographic area of the Arctic.

"The take in the literature is that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the globe, so for me it was a bit surprising that ours was so much higher than the usual number," Antti Lipponen, co-author from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, told AFP. 

The study also showed significant regional variations in the warming rate within the Arctic circle with the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean warming as much as 1.25C per decade, seven times faster than the rest of the world.

The team of researchers, who are based in Norway and Finland, also discovered that even state-of-the-art climate models predicted Arctic warming to be about one-third lower than what the observed data showed.

They, however, attributed this to previous modelled estimates being rendered obsolete by repeated Arctic modelling.

Experts have previously warned that significant warming in the Arctic will have global consequences on local communities and wildlife reliant on sea ice.

The Greenland ice sheet, which recent studies warn may be approaching a melting "tipping point", contains enough frozen water to lift Earth's oceans some six metres.  

"Climate change is caused by humans. As the Arctic warms up its glaciers will melt and this will globally affect sea levels," Lipponen said. 

"Something is happening in the Arctic and it will affect us all."

(With input from AFP)

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