Rapid Arctic Warming Affecting Communities in Arctic and Beyond
As climate change continues to play out, the Arctic region is also faces the grave challenge of global heating.
In his remarks at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference in Alaska, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Arctic is warming at a faster pace and even four times in certain places.
“Glaciers now melting three times faster than the rate observed in the last century, and as they melt into the seas the level of sea rises.” – Secretary Kerry
To cite an example, in Greenland, the ice sheet on the Arctic country sits on rock, not in the ocean, which draws greater concern. When this happens, as the ice melts, that is a magnitude greater of increase in the rate of sea level rise.
In addition, Secretary Kerry said in the most recent days the gigatonnage of meltdown, is significantly greater than it has been at any time in the past, giving greater cause for concern.
The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of the Earth. The Arctic region is composed of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
Arctic Region Threatened by Climate Change
According to Secretary Kerry, even the resilient Arctic region is now threatened by the impact of climate change.
The Arctic is not known as an easy place to survive let alone to raise a family or make a living. In fact, Arctic communities are inherently ones of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next. But this seems more difficult due to climate change.
“But global climate change now threatens life in this region.” – Secretary Kerry
Secretary Kerry highlighted that unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, dramatic climate impacts in the Arctic region will be a harbinger for every part of the world.
Permafrost Melting Can Be More Dangerous Than CO2
According to Secretary Kerry, permafrost melting, which is releasing methane, can be 30 times on average more damaging than CO2. The worst thing also is that in the short term it’s 86 times more damaging, but over an average of about a hundred years 30 times more damaging.
Even climate change did not exempt Alaska from ill effect. Secretary Kerry cited that 5 million acres of fires in Alaska alone was recorded this year.
In addition, some villages in Alaska were battered by storms that caused people to leave. As the permafrost continues to thaw, infrastructure is beginning to be challenged.
“Houses and other buildings are literally collapsing into rubble. Already this is happening.” – Secretary Kerry
US And Arctic States Take Scientists’ Warnings Seriously
In a conference attended by representatives from Arctic states and others, including from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and European Union, in Anchorage, Alaska, scientists revealed the hard realities of melting of ice and glaciers in the Arctic region due to climate change.
The United States and representatives from the Arctic region believe that temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at more than twice the average global rate. With the loss of Arctic snow and ice, the effect could accelerate the warming of the planet as a whole by exposing darker surfaces that absorb more sunlight and heat.
In addition, the Arctic sea ice decline has been recorded to be faster during the past ten years than in the previous 20 years, with summer sea ice extent reduced by 40% since 1979.
So what will happen with the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers and ice sheets? The scientists revealed that this will contribute to rising sea levels worldwide, which put coastal communities everywhere at increased risk of coastal erosion and persistent flooding.
Recognizing the need to counter the challenge of ice melting in the Arctic, the Foreign Ministers and other representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and European Union made a joint commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic.