Climate Change Case Study: The Arctic
The Arctic is vulnerable because it has one of the most severe environments on the planet. Temperatures are extremely low, sunlight and precipitation are limited, and the growing season is short, averaging only 50 to 100 days. Sea Ice, snow cover, tundra and permafrost are highly sensitive to subtle changes in sunlight, temperature and precipitation. Ecosystems within the Arctic exist in a delicate balance with the climate. So are more sensitive to temperature changes than temperate or tropical ecosystems. A slight shift in temperature, bringing averages above the freezing point, will completely alter the character of the region.
Environmental and ecological impacts:
Arctic temperature is increasing twice as fast as anywhere else in the world, this means a reduced albedo affect, this is where the sun’s rays are re-radiated back into space by the white ice, effectively keeping the planet cool. Climate change will affect ecosystems all over the world because some species breed and feed in the Arctic. Reduction in sea ice will reduce marine habitats. E.g. Polar bears. A change in ocean salinity will affect ecosystems and could mean that fish migrate northwards.
As the Arctic loses snow and ice, bare rock and water absorb more and more of the sun’s energy, making it ever warmer. This warming has affected the region’s ice and hydrological balance: the late-summer Arctic sea ice has thinned by 40 % in some parts and shrunk in area by roughly 8 % over the past 30 years. Precipitation has increased by around 1.2 % per decade…