In a Rapidly Warming Arctic, Rain Where It Used to Snow 北極迅速變暖 往昔降雪處改下雨
As humans warm the planet, the once reliably frigid and frozen Arctic is becoming wetter and stormier, with shifts in its climate and seasons that are forcing local communities, wildlife and ecosystems to adapt, scientists said Tuesday in an annual assessment of the region.
Even though 2022 was only the Arctic's sixth warmest year on record, researchers saw plenty of new signs this year of how the region is changing.
A September heat wave in Greenland, for instance, caused the most severe melting of the island's ice sheet for that time of the year in over four decades of continuous satellite monitoring. In 2021, an August heat wave had caused it to rain at the ice sheet's summit for the first time.
"Insights about the circumpolar region are relevant to the conversation about our warming planet now more than ever," said Richard Spinrad, administrator of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We're seeing the impacts of climate change happen first in polar regions."
Temperatures in the Arctic Circle have been rising much more quickly than those in the rest of the planet, transforming the region's climate into one defined less by sea ice, snow and permafrost and more by open water, rain and green landscapes.
Between October 2021 and September, air temperatures above Arctic lands were the sixth warmest since 1900, the report card said, noting that the seven warmest years have been the last seven. Rising temperatures have helped plants, shrubs and grasses grow in parts of the Arctic tundra, and 2022 saw levels of green vegetation that were the fourth highest since 2000, particularly in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, northern Quebec and central Siberia.
Indicators of sea ice rebounded this year after near-record-lows in 2021, but they were still below long-term averages, the assessment found. March is typically when the ice is at its greatest extent each year, September its lowest. At both points this year, ice levels were among the lowest since satellites have been making reliable measurements.
Rule Does Little to Stem Spread of 'Ghost Guns' 美阻「幽靈槍枝」擴散新規成效甚微
President Joe Biden celebrated the adoption of a federal rule in August that cracked down on the online sale of untraceable components for weapons known as ghost guns as a major step in stemming gun violence. But the rule has done little to stop the sale of key parts used to make deadly homemade firearms, according to officials and gun control groups.
The rule clarified the definition of a firearm under federal law to better regulate modern semi-automatic weapons. That in turn paved the way for regulating ready-made kits, which include all the parts needed to assemble a workable firearm in under an hour.
The move was a centerpiece of the administration's broader initiative to address the proliferation of illegal weapons driving an increase in mass shootings and violent crime — an effort highlighted by the passage of Biden's sweeping, if limited, bipartisan gun deal in June. But because the rule was created through executive action, rather than a statute validated by Congress, it has given companies confidence that they can keep selling individual gun parts.
Dozens of online retailers are still selling core components used to make ghost guns, also known as privately manufactured firearms, according to research by Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group founded by Michael Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York City. Many have adopted the narrowest possible interpretation of the rule, continuing to sell so-called 80% frames and receivers, which require simple alterations to become operational.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the agency responsible for enforcing gun laws, has been reluctant to target vendors who sell those parts out of concern that doing so would prompt a legal backlash.
ATF officials have cautioned that pushing the limits of the rule with a range of other changes, such as requiring federally licensed firearms dealers to place serial numbers on homemade guns bought from do-it-yourself sellers, could jeopardize it entirely.
The bureau, in consultation with senior leaders at the Justice Department, is hashing out a circular to clarify what the new rule means for the sale of components used to produce Glock-style pistols, the weapon of choice for many criminals seeking an untraceable firearm. The guidance is expected to be made public before the end of the year.