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Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

Abstract

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with a boost by El Niño, 2016 set new records for global temperatures, capping three consecutive years of record global warming. In Alaska, for example, the average temperature was 31.9 degrees Fahrenheit — 5.9 degrees above the long-term average. The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record at 1.35° F above average. The globally averaged land surface temperature was also the highest on record at 2.57° F above average. The NOAA report records that in 2016 the Arctic experienced some of its highest air temperatures, least sea-ice (averaging just 3.92 million square miles) and earliest spring snow melt. 2016 was the first full year of the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Significant achievements included coming to an agreement to enhance scientific cooperation in the Arctic (scheduled to become binding in 2017), completing the ratification process for an agreement on oil pollution preparedness and response, and finishing a five-year research project to release the Arctic Resilience Report. Finland will succeed the U.S. as chair in May 2017 and hopes to host a meeting between President Putin and President Trump at its first Arctic Council summit of its term.

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