Thursday, April 5, 2012

Environmental condition in the Arctic - Facts

Climate change in the Arctic is occurring at a faster rate than anywhere else on our planet. The increased melting of the Arctic ice will lead to water level problems on a global scale. Arctic's sea ice has become thinner and more fragile

Arctic is the home of polar bears. These large predators are not only suffering due to an increased climate change impact which results in less ice cover but also because of the industrial chemicals that are being transported from the industrialized world to the Arctic via air and sea currents. These chemicals are absorbed by sea's food chains, of which the polar bear is the top predator.

The scientists have calculated that the coastline in Arctic regions is experiencing increased erosion due to climate change and is retreating by half a metre each year.

The increasing air temperatures in the Arctic have caused an increase in rainfall and a decrease in snowfall, making the sea ice more susceptible to melting. The Arctic snow cover in May and June has decreased by close to 20 % in the last decade.

 In mid-September 2007 Arctic ice cover reached an all time low with perennial ice covering an area of only 4.14 million km² . Situation wasn't much better in mid-September 2011 when Arctic ice cover accounted to 4.34 million km².

If the current melting trend in Arctic continues, the Arctic Ocean will be devoid of sea ice in late summer before the end of this century.

One of the latest EU studies  has connected the loss of Arctic summer sea ice with colder and snowier winters in much of the Europe.

Less sea ice will also lead to an increased shipping in the Arctic and this could cause big damage to many marine ecosystems in Arctic, because many marine animals will find it hard to navigate through Arctic waters with increased shipping traffic. Oil and gas exploration activities will also increase because of the lengthening of the open-water season causing yet another major environmental issue in this area.

The loss of snow and ice cover means that less solar radiation is reflected back out into the atmosphere. Instead it gets absorbed resulting in a temperature increase. Therefore the Arctic area has already entered a stage where it is itself reinforcing climate change impact.

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