by Axios | 12.13.18
Rapid climate change is transforming the Arctic, from the bottom of the sea floor to the top of windswept glaciers. Sea ice is disappearing, land-based ice is melting, and a domino effect of ecosystem changes have been set into motion, with unknown results.
Why it matters: New research published this week shows the peril that awaits companies that choose to operate in the harsh, unstable region, which is increasingly the focus of oil and gas drilling activity. In addition, sea ice loss may be rewriting global weather patterns, contributing to extreme weather events as far away as the Lower 48 states.
The big picture: The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, owing largely to feedbacks known as “Arctic amplification.” Melting sea ice and snow yields ground to darker ocean waters and land cover, which absorb more of the sun’s incoming energy.
“The Arctic is shifting over time from white to blue,” says Karen Frey, a geographer at Clark University, who helped write a federal report on the changing Arctic released Tuesday, told Axios in an interview.
The details: Tuesday’s report, known as the Arctic Report Card, found:
Increasing temperatures are causing the once-deep layer of permanently frozen soil, known as permafrost, to melt from within — and there's a dramatic new example of how bad it has gotten.
The consequences of these changes include:
The bottom line: And those are just the consequences we know about so far.
Written by Axios
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