Rapidly Changing Arctic Braces For Destabilization

2016-12-01T10:37:47+00:00 December 1, 2016|
Arctic sea ice as seen from satellite images (Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr)

(Click to enlarge) Arctic sea ice as seen from satellite images (Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr)

Global warming’s transformation of the Arctic is having a cascading effect, with some changes to the region worsening others.

(From Scientific American / by Scott Waldman)–The loss of sea ice is the most visible, and temperatures almost 40 degrees above normal certainly garner attention. However, there are other important changes such as the loss of permafrost, the collapse of certain species in the food chain and the damage to fisheries caused by higher sea temperatures.

Perhaps more troubling is that those changes are often interlinked, and one shift can trigger a series of others, a new report has found.

 The Arctic Resilience Report, released Friday, is a five-year scientific and sociological effort to understand the changes now occurring in the region, as well as an examination on how local communities can be more resilient. Produced by a consortium of research groups under the auspices of the Arctic Council, it documents some of the changes observed in recent decades and looks at how some communities have successfully responded.

Those cascading effects are reorganizing the Arctic ecosystem in a way that is increasingly painting a dire picture, said Marcus Carson, a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Some changes, such as the loss of sea ice, are widely understood, but there are many other areas where the Arctic has been fundamentally transformed and too little is understood about what changes are occurring, the report found.

“It’s a little bit like firing your cue ball into the rest of the balls on the pool table, you don’t know where things are going to go, and the potential feedback in that system is the most unsettling given the pace of the changes that we understand fairly well,” he said.

Scientists have long viewed global warming’s transformation of the Arctic as a bellwether for the rest of the planet. The new study shows that effects seen in other parts of the globe, such as record-breaking warmth, are often amplified in the Arctic.

Read the full article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rapidly-changing-arctic-braces-for-destabilization/