The Arctic Is Drastically Changing Due to Climate Change: Watch New Video From NOAA
Global warming is rapidly changing the Arctic into a region that is, "warmer, less frozen, and biologically changed in ways that are scarcely imaginable even a generation ago," according to NOAA's annual Arctic report card, released Tuesday.
That description, from Rick Thoman, a University of Alaska scientist and one of the editors of the assessment, describes not just the region's dramatic loss of sea ice, but also its soaring temperatures and the wildfires that burned an estimated 23 million acres across Siberia.
As global warming caused by burning fossil fuels heats the planet, it has an outsized impact on the Arctic, which in turn has an outsized impact on the rest of the globe. "Changes in the Arctic climate are important because the Arctic acts as a refrigerator for the rest of the world — it helps cool the planet," Lawrence Mudryk, a report contributor and a climate scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told The Associated Press. "How much of the Arctic continues to be covered by snow and sea ice reflects part of how efficiently that refrigerator is working."
An animation shows Arctic sea ice from this year's maximum to minimum, along with the 30-year average minimum. Trent L. Schindler / NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
As reported by The New York Times:
"Nearly everything in the Arctic, from ice and snow to human activity, is changing so quickly that there is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today," [Thoman] said.
While the whole planet is warming because of emissions of heat-trapping gases through burning of fossil fuels and other human activity, the Arctic is heating up more than twice as quickly as other regions. That warming has cascading effects elsewhere, raising sea levels, influencing ocean circulation and, scientists increasingly suggest, playing a role in extreme weather.
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