Climate Change in the Far North
Excessive carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities has caused Arctic ice to melt more rapidly. This invisible gas traps and retains the sun’s heat, which leads to rising air temperatures. Since 1979, the region has lost more than 45% of its summer sea ice.
Ledges of sea ice invite abundant forms of life. The reduction in size of a critical, life-sustaining habitat threatens biodiversity.
Top: Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent, 1979; Bottom:Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent, 2012; Images courtesy of NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio
Greenland’s vast ice sheet is also vulnerable to climate change. In 2012, scientists determined that this large island was losing five times as much ice annually as it did in the 1990s. (Reported in the journal Science, November 23, 2012.)
Melting ice water flows directly into the ocean, contributing to the planet’s rising sea levels. This meltdown has catastrophic consequences for native peoples who experience climate change every day. Aboriginal communities are forced to abandon their ancestral lands when coastlines of permafrost, once protected by sea ice, melt and erode in the warming atmosphere.
Top banner image: Tiina Itkonen, Uummannaq 6, Greenland, 2010, C- print