Impact of Arctic ice melting

    1. Impact on temperature
      • Loss of ice means more heat is absorbed because lesser sunlight is reflected
      • Heat entering the oceans during summer is later released back into the atmosphere raising atmospheric temperatures too. It’s one important reason why the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet.
    2. Impact on sea level
      • Melted ice foes into sea and its level increases.
      • The newest climate models project that by 2100, Greenland’s ice sheet could contribute four to nine centimetres to sea level.
    3. Impact on permafrost
      • Rising Arctic temperatures are thawing once-frozen ground in the Arctic known as permafrost.
      • Scientists are concerned that carbon dioxide and methane released from the carbon-rich permafrost could cause additional warming by adding to greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere – another positive feedback.
    4. Impact on ocean circulation
      • Freshwater runoff into the ocean disrupts part of a major circulation system known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation ( AMOC).
      • The AMOC carries warm surface water northward, giving Europe its mild climate.
      • Models suggest a slowdown in the AMOC could cool the northern hemisphere this century, but the effect is likely to be outweighed by greenhouse gas warming
      • So losing ice could affect regional climates worldwide.
    5. Impact on indigenous ways of life will impact habitat, change habitable limits and thus impact entire food web.
    6. Impact on shipping routes
      • An ice-free Arctic Ocean might open up more efficient global shipping routes, and provide easier access to oil and gas deposits.
      • However, both developments could bring security concerns, as Arctic countries vie for access to valuable resources or feel compelled to protect these natural and commercial resources.
      • Shorter trade routes through the Arctic could be a boon to export-driven nations like China.
    7. Geopolitical impacts:
      • Territorial disputes:
        • In 2008, the five littoral Arctic nations reaffirmed their commitment to the law of the sea in the Arctic with the Ilulissat Declaration, but a few sovereignty disputes persist.
        • 5 countries located along the shore of the Arctic Ocean – Russia, the US, Denmark, Canada and Norway– have competing territorial claims.
    8. Impact on Energy reserves:
      • S. Geological Survey (USGS), estimated that nearly one-quarter of the earth’s undiscovered, recoverable petroleum resources lie in the region: 13 percent of the oil; 30 percent of the natural gas; and 20 percent of the liquefied natural gas. More than 80 percent of these are thought to be offshore.



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