Arctic

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What is the Arctic?

  • An area north of the current tree line which is located at high latitude
  • Has biodiversity but not as much as the Daintree rainforest
  • 3 biomes- Arctic desert, Tundra and Boreal Forest
  • Temperatures rarely reach over 10 degrees (6 degrees for plants to grow)
  • 6 months winter (dark 24/7) and 6 months summer
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What is the Boreal Forest?

  • Located 50 degrees-70 degrees North
  • Decidous and coniferous trees grow
  • "world's lungs"- carbon sink
  • constitute for 25% of the worlds forests
  • Tree line moving North as the Arctic is getting warmer- which affects biodiversity as endemic species are being pushed out and alien species have suitable conditions to live in- this also means land is reducing for e.g. Polar bears- could make them extinct :(
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Trade routes

  • Trading using the northern roue/ NW passage is quicker and cheaper
  • with increased accessibility of these routes during summer months due to ice caps melting cos of rising temperatures
  • China- see it as a faster route for manufactured goods
  • N America and EU cheaper prices for consumer items- could lead to geopolitical tensions
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Threats to Arctic biodiversity

Global

  • Climate change- ice melt from increasing temperatures impacting upon habitat and vegetation shifts which changes the food supply and migration of species. Increasing tree line moving north as it's getting warmer so increasing alien species (Spruce Bark beetle). Will also alter thermohaline circulation so water salinity will change which may loss in species and change their migration patterns
  • Shipping-trade routes- risk of oil spills impacting upon marine ecosystems, marine pollution and destruction of ice glaciers depending on the size of ships.

Local

  • pollution from shipping- health risk
  • overfishing- impacts on food chains
  • tourism- levels are increasing as the area becomes more accessible by sea so can disrupt vegetation and animal species
  • resource extraction and iron ore cast mining affect the breeding grounds, migration patters and habitat health of biomes
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Impacts from global warming on the Arctic

  • increase the temp
  • Green peace "last 30 years 75% of sea ice has melted"

env impacts

  • positive albedo feedback (sea ice melts so more dark surfaces such as the ocean are created. These surfaces absorb more radiation- converting into heat- increases temps so melts more ice)
  • oil spills (from ships affecting marine biome)

ecological impacts

  • The arctic food chain (primary producers, consumers and preditors)
  • inuits food chain (imports are too expensive)
  • The plant ecosystem- losing carbon sinks, creates suitable conditions for invasive species to live

social impacts  

  • Shishmaref, in Alaska, a small Inuit village in the Chukchi Sea, seven houses have had to be relocated, three have fallen into the sea.
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Players involved of the process

IGO's

  • Arctic council (keep coordination between the 8 member countries with the involvement of local indigenous people, looking @ Arctic issues & keeping protection in the Arctic
  • Greenpeace
  • UNCLOS

NGO's

  • IUCN- international union for conservation of nature
  • WWF- the arctic programme

TNC's

  • Shell (have a conditional US Arctic drilling approval) want to invest

Local communities

  • Sami and Inuits (only 10% of population)

Want to invest (Russia, USA, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and China)

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Future management

  • Shared ownership (not 1 country has overall ownership so management is shared)
  • Treaty based organisation- what Greenpeace want what the Antarctic has (however the Arctic is an ocean and not a landmass like Antractica, it's also more active than Antarctica as people live there)
  • Stakeholder inclusion (considers all stakeholders and indigenous groups- fair use)
  • Clear framework (allows discussion in a more holistic manner)
  • Arctic Global Sanctuary- the best in my view want to turn the Arctic into a place that has resources but are off limits to anyone except scientists
  • Business as usual
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importance of biodiversity in the Arctic, what eff

  • Arctic is of economic value (fish and resources- oil and gas)
  • Scientific value- unique biospheres and endemic species
  • Arctic has numerous ice sheets and if lost through shipping and climate change it increases the albedo effect causing it to be warmer, so the endemic animals will not be able to survive the alterations
  • aesthetic value
  • climate change will alter the thermohaline circulation making the water salinitywill change causing the loss of some species and their migration patterns  
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