In the world’s northernmost town, temperatures have risen by 4C since 1971, devastating homes, wildlife and even the cemetery. India Rakusen and Jon Watts travel to Svalbard to find out how the island is coping with the effects of global heating. And: Gary Younge on Ivanka Trump’s presence at the G20
Since 1971, temperatures in Svalbard have risen by 4C, five times faster than the global average. Nowhere on the planet is heating faster. In the winter, when the changes are more marked, it has gone up by 7C. These are increases that the rest of the world is not expected to experience until the 22nd century. They are far ahead of most computer simulations. On current trends, Svalbard will hit 10C of warming by 2100.
Jonathan Watts, the Guardian’s global environment editor, and India Rakusen travelled to Svalbard to see the impact this warming is having on the island. It is now impossible to take a snowmobile across the fjord, because it no longer freezes in winter, something unimaginable a couple of decades ago. This used to be an Arctic desert, but now there is rain, even in winter. The glaciers that cover 60% of Svalbard are retreating, which is causing more run-off through the valleys. The permafrost is also thawing, causing landslides, damaging foundations and cracking the walls of some buildings. Svalbard is unique, but also a microcosm of what is happening in the wider world. Will the wider world take heed?