Scientists Say A 6°C Warmer-Than-Today Arctic Is ‘Optimal’ For Thermophile Species

by K. Richard, Apr 6, 2023 in NoTricksZone

Back in the Early Holocene, when CO2 levels were said to be ~255 ppm, Arctic Svalbard was warm enough to accommodate abundant numbers of thermophiles, or warmth-demanding species. Only “remnants” of these species and their habitat exist in today’s much-colder Arctic.

With the exception of a few centuries in recent millennia, today’s Svalbard (Arctic) is the most glaciated it has been in the last 10,000 years (see the blue trend line in the below chart from Brožová et al., 2023).


This region is today about 6°C colder than it was during the early Holocene (~10,000 to 8,000 years ago), a climatic period scientists characterize as an optimum, or “most favorable,” for a “rich species pool” of thermophiles.

The sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the western Barents Sea were as warm as 13°C and “sea ice-free during most of the mid-Holocene” (Łącka et al., 2019). In contrast, today’s SST in this region are as cold as they were during the last glacial (2-4°C), when CO2 hovered near 200 ppm. Rapid double-digit SST fluctuations, varying from 3 to 13°C, have been ongoing throughout the Holocene.