"U.S. Issues Arctic Report, Cites 'Drastic Changes'"

"Global warming is messing with the planet's thermostat.

That warning came Thursday from Richard Spinrad, head of research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in releasing the annual update of science's Arctic report card.

Warming temperatures continue in the polar north, changing wind patterns, melting sea ice and glaciers and affecting ocean and land life, the report said.

The Arctic is a sort of natural regulator in terms of the amount of heat stored in the ocean and ice, "especially the loss of sea ice is messing with that thermostat for the whole globe," Spinrad said at a briefing.

A particular problem is the disappearance of old, thick sea ice that has been present for thousands of years, added James Overland of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Research Laboratory."

Randolph E. Schmid reports for the Associated Press October 22, 2009.

Source: AP, 10/23/2009