The Arctic

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  • Impacts of Global Warming on the Arctic
    • Location
      • Lies within the Arctic circle - 66.5 degree line of latitude.
      • Consists of the northern parts of 8 countries:
        • Canada
        • Greenland
        • Russia
        • USA (Alaska)
        • Iceland
        • Norway
        • Sweden
        • Finland
      • The area where averages temperatures of the warmest month are below 10C
      • Consists of ice sheet surrounding North Pole
    • Environmental Impacts
      • Positive Ice Albedo Feedback
        • 14% loss of Arctic ice between 2004 and 2005
        • Ice reflects sunlight but ice is melting
          • Less sunlight is reflected back so waters absorb more heat, increasing sea temperatures
            • Warmer temperatures cause further ice melt
      • Arctic Conveyor
        • The flow of warm water and cold water that circulates around the world’s oceans
        • In the North Atlantic, the sea water is very cold and saline, making it dense, so it sinks.
          • This draws warmer waters in, drawing in water from the Tropics, across the ocean surface.
            • This draws colder waters up to be warmed again.
      • River Flow
        • The increase in river flow is caused by warmer surface air temperatures.
        • Rivers and lakes may drain as land underneath them thaws out whilst rising rivers could create new wetlands.
        • Could shut off Atlantic drift and cool the whole of Northern Europe.
      • Permafrost
        • Areas of rock and soil where temperatures have been below freezing point for two years.
        • Up to 40% of permafrost is expected to thaw, releasing large quantities of methane.
      • Polar Oceans - Carbon Sink
        • Cold dense waters around Antarctica absorb CO2, slowing global warming
          • Carbon sinks have stayed the same since 1981 but emissions have increased by 40%.
            • More CO2
    • Ecological Impacts
      • Tree Line
        • Vegetation zones set to shift north with coniferous forests encroaching on tundra and ice deserts.
          • Destabilise food webs
          • Benefit Arctic agriculture
      • Spruce Beetle
        • Nearly 4 million acres of mature spruce forest on the Kenai Peninsula killed by growing population of spruce bark beetles.
        • Higher temperatures causes faster maturing of beetles.
      • Boreal Forest Fire (carbon sink)
        • Increase in fires in Arctic Russia.
        • 10 million hectares burn each year, losing 0.85 of world's coniferous forest.
        • Account for 37% of world's carbon pool on land.
      • Tundra Ecosystems
        • Affected by increase in forest vegetation instead of Arctic vegetation.
          • Alien species may invade.
        • Increase in fires and insects impacts valuable habitats rich in lichen, fungi and birds.
      • Arctic Food Chain
        • Warmer waters
          • Reduced quantity of marine plants (small fish food).
            • Affects animals further up the food chain.
              • Seals
              • Polar bears
          • River patterns affect freshwater fish (Arctic Char, lake trout).
      • Polar Bears
        • Changes in river patterns affects fresh water fish:
          • Arctic Char
          • Lake trout
    • Socio-Economic Impacts
      • Destruction of VIllages
        • Coasts exposed to ocean waves and storms - people forced to move inland.
        • 24 Inuit
          • 24 villages threatened by flooding in Alaska.
      • Loss if Income
        • Marine stocks decline.
        • 80% of Inuits hunt caribou, fish and marine mammals - rely on hunting for income.
        • Fishing areas becoming more dangerous.
      • Nutrition and Diet
        • Caribou and marine animals provide vital nutrition for Inuits.
          • High protein needed for cold.
          • Imports are expensive.
    • Benefits?
      • Energy Reserves
        • Russian Flag
          • Marine access to some Arctic resources, including offshore oil and gas, enhanced by reduction of sea ice.
      • Fishing
        • Some major Arctic marine fisheries to become more productive as climate warms.
          • Cod and herring
      • Tourism
        • Shipping through key marine routes likely to increase . Summer navigation set to lengthen.
          • Northern Sea Route and Northern Pa.ssage
        • 30% of Inuit income from tourism in Canada.

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