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Executive Summary for May 12th

We review the latest Arctic news, including Finland’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council, plans for Arctic nations to curb black carbon emissions, plus research into the Pacific Ocean’s role in the Arctic’s unprecedented warm weather.

Published on May 12, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Pass the Gavel

Finland is assuming the chairmanship of the Arctic Council for the next two years, following this week’s ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Expect Finland to use its leadership seat to promote technology, education and better weather forecasting for the Arctic, says Heather Exner-Pirot, managing editor of the Arctic Yearbook.

For more takes on what’s next for the Arctic Council, Radio Canada’s Eye on the Arctic site has gathered views from Finland, the United States and Russia. High North News has also offered a nice round-up of expert views.

Dirty Work

One commitment expected to flow from this week’s Arctic Council meetings in Fairbanks is a pledge by Arctic nations to work toward curbing black carbon emissions.

As Alaska Dispatch News reports, black carbon – more commonly known as soot – is released by burning fossil fuels and remains in the atmosphere for only a short time. But when it falls on snow and ice, it absorbs solar radiation and hastens melting.

In the European Arctic, it is believed that nearly half of the black carbon is created through the flaring of natural gas wells. The World Bank recently estimated that global warming could be curbed by 1C (1.8F) by 2050 if serious reductions in black carbon output were adopted.

Making Heatwaves

New research points to how temperature cycles within the Pacific Ocean may influence the Arctic.

As the Washington Post reports, these decade-long cycles, which are similar to the El Niño/La Niña phenomena, are believed by scientists to have suppressed Arctic heating until recently – creating the impression of a climate change “pause.”

Now the cycle is creating the opposite effect, and is working to kick polar temperatures to new heights. As a result, global temperatures are expected to hit 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels within the next 15 years.

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