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Arctic Heat Breaks Records in Nunavut

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Issue: 5 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada, North Nunavut Topics: climate change

August 8, 2003

Arctic Heat Breaks Records in Nunavut

Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, has experienced record-breaking temperatures this summer. According to a report by CBC North, the city's temperature showed 26.1C, over five degrees higher than the previous record of 20.8C, set in 2001. Baker Lake, Nunavut's only inland community, also experienced record temperatures this summer; a high of 31.5C beat the previous record of 29.7C, set in 1991.

Iqaluit: 26.1 C this summer. photo by Nunavut Planning Commission
After one of the coldest winters in recent memory, record temperatures in the Arctic seem to be part of a global heat wave. In some parts of Europe, temperatures have been consistently five degrees higher than average, resulting in major problems for farmers. In some Indian states, temperatures have reached as high as 49 degrees, resulting in a reported 1,500 deaths as a direct result. Monsoon rains in Asia have been among the most extreme on record. Earlier this summer, over 400,000 people in the Indian state of Assam were forced to relocate due to monsoon flooding. Near-record temperatures have also been experienced in the US, China and Russia.

Recent weather has provoked concern from some corners of the scientific community that climate change is occurring much more rapidly than was previously expected. Dr. John Schellnhuber, who heads a leading group of British climate scientists, was quoted as saying: "What we are seeing is absolutely unusual, we know that global warming is proceeding apace, but most of us were thinking that in 20 to 30 years' time we would be seeing hot spells [like this]. But it's happening now. Clearly extreme weather events will increase."

Since 2000, most climate scientists have been in agreement that the global climate is getting warmer. The scientific debate in recent years has focused on the degree to which human activity is responsible for changes in the weather. Many scientists now say that it is impossible to explain climate change based on "natural causes"--such as sunspots or volcanoes--alone. Dr. Peter Stott of the British Government's Hadley Centre was quoted as saying, "Once we factor in the effects of human activity, we find we can explain the warming that is observed."

Dru Oja Jay

» CBC North: Arctic sizzles in summer heat

» The Age: Heatwave sparks greenhouse alarm

» Independent: Britain bakes, Europe burns. Is this proof of global warming?

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