The Arctic

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Impacts on the environment - increasing temperatur

* The tree line is moving north and also to higher altitude.

* Tundra ecosystems (withstand intense cold and short seasons)  are being lost as the climate warms up and other plants begin to take over.

* Permafrost is thawing out.

The spread of species is changing the food chain - eg, Spruce Bark Beetle (Alaska)

Increase in the number of fires and damages in Arctic Russia. - 10 million hectares burn every year! Losing 0.8% world's Coniferous forest. 

* There is also a loss of Boreal Forest due to the fires and they accout for 37% carbon pool on land and are an effective carbon sink - These areas are benefical and and needed.  

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Socio- economic impacts

* Threats 155,000 Inuit living in the Arctic.

* The ice is weaker when the Inuit men take their fishing shacks and equipment each winter. This means they are more vulnerable as it is a dangerous environment to live in.

* Due to the ice melting, there is no longer a natural barrier along the coast to protect the Inuit, so they are now exposed to more dangerous weather.

* 24 Inuit villages are threatened by flooding in Alaska.

* 80% Inuits hunt fish and marine mammals still. These animals are in a dramatic decline. - 70% of the Inuit income is from paid employment or hunting.

* Due to the level of decline in animals, lisences have to be put into place to hunt certain animals such as polar bears. They are only allowed to hunt a few every year and only in extreame circumstances.

* Marine animals provide vital nutrition for the Inuit community. - 90% of their food. Needed as any imported food is so expensive

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Fish stocks and polar bears.

* Warmer water has reduced the quanitity of marine plants which smaller fish will feed on.

* The negative multiplier effect shows the reduction in smaller fish species affecting those higher in the food chain, which would in turn affects the larger marine species such as seals.

* The melting of the ice means that polar bears can not hunt for as long as they used to. Eg, Hudson Bay is now ice free for three weeks longer then it was in 1985.

* Each animal loses 80kg of fat during longer summer months. This makes them susepticple to disease and reduces their ability to feed their cubs. - They can then face the danger of complete extinction.

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Benefits from global warming?


* Commerical advantages for the Arctic region -  Until now, ships would only use it for 6 weeks between August and October. - Now tourist ships can visit Northern Canada.

* In 2007 - North West Passage between Canada and the Arctic melted so much to allow shipping through for the first time.


* Controversty over using the Arctic region for oil reserves. - There would be an increased risk of oil spills and pollution in the area.

*Russia has started to allow nuclear waste disposal in its Arctic waters. - Posing a further threat to the marine system.

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