AS Geography: The Arctic

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  • Created on: 18-03-13 22:00
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Inside the Arctic Circle - 66.5 latitude.
Often referred to as a `canary in a coal mine' as it is one of the first places on Earth to show
the impacts of climate change.
Temperatures here are rising 2X faster than anywhere else, causing rapid ablation of ice.
Tree line moving north, into higher altitudes.
Tundra ecosystems being lost as climate warms and other plants taking over.
Thawing permafrost (producing methane)
The spread of species such as the spruce bark beetle in Alaska ­ changing the food
Increase in the number of boreal fires in Arctic Russia ­ 10 million hectares burn each
year. Boreal ecosystems account for 37% of the world's carbon pool on land.
Warmer waters reduce quantity of marine plants which smaller fish feed on.
Therefore creating a negative multiplier effect up the food chain, eventually affecting
top predators e.g. polar bears.
Faster annual ice melt reduces polar bear's spring hunting season.
Longer summers mean that female bears lose too much body fat meaning that they
become susceptible to disease and reduces their chance to feed their cubs.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC (155,000 intuits living in Arctic region)
Weaker and thinner sea ice makes it dangerous to fish.
Ice used to protect villages along coast, however coasts are now more exposed to
ocean waves and storms, causing the destruction of villages and forcing intuits
24 Inuit villages in Alaska are now threatened by flooding.
As marine stocks decline, the Inuit rely on hunting caribou for income, which in turn
puts pressure on caribou stock. 70% of Inuit income is from paid employment or
hunting, so declining stocks hit Inuit incomes hard.
Caribou, seal, walrus and fish provide 90% of food therefore reductions in numbers
are dangerous as a high protein intake is needed to cope with cold. Imported food is
very expensive.

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Shortens some shipping routes as there is less ice cover e.g. northern sea route.
Now, tourist ships are able to visit northern Canada and 30% of Inuit now earn
income through tourism e.g. by print making.
Could enable to grow crops on previously inaccessible land. E.g. as climate
conditions on Greenland become similar to those of northern Europe, potato
growing to produce cash crop exports is becoming very popular, there are now
very little subsistence hunters living on Greenland.
Exploitation of oil and minerals.…read more


Daniel Payne

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A concise case study of a threatened environment. Use to learn facts for that answer requiring a detailed case study.



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