Changes in Water Balance in The Arctic To Have Implications For Global Climate

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The Arctic region (North Pole), which is the second largest desert in the world after Antarctica (the South Pole), is home to some of our world´s largest fresh water resources. ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment) Chapter 6, Cryosphere and Hydrology (pp. 183-242), discusses changes, development and findings in sea ice, snow cover, glaciers and ice sheets, permafrost, river and lake ice, freshwater discharge, sea-level rise and coastal stability in the Arctic region, identifying critical research needs.

According to ACIA, observational data reveals that sea-ice coverage has decreased by up to 10 % in the past decades, with the largest impact during Arctic summer months. The decline also applies to multi-year ice, the sea ice thickness, and snow covers, while river discharges have expanded, permafrost temperatures have risen, and glaciers are losing significant proportions of mass, especially in Alaska where glacier retreat has been remarkably high since the 1990´s. Model projections carried out by ACIA experts indicate that these developments will continue throughout the 21st century, whereby sea levels are projected to rise due to a combination of many factors leading to climate change and warming in the Arctic region. Furthermore, ACIA reveals that the desolation of arctic glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet will impact sea level rise with several centimeters during this century.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001), has reported that global mean sea levels have risen by 120 meters in the past 20.000 years. Despite of stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries to come. (IPCC, 2013). Moreover, (IPCC, 2013), in the past century glacier melting and ocean thermal expansion have been the main contributors to mean sea levels rising on a global scale. IPCC projects sea level rise to have significant regional patterns now and in distant future. Local sea levels may differ significantly from the global average depending for instance upon changing ocean currents leading to amplification of warming ocean water and altering surface winds.

Learn more by watching EDU-ARCTIC´s video “Mass balance of glaciers”:

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Traditional Lifestyles in The Arctic At Risk From Climate Change

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With a melting Arctic, traditional lifestyles of indigenous population in the region are at risk of suffering, or completely disappearing. While yet home to millions of people, the Arctic region is one of the most scarcely populated places upon Earth. In fact, despite of its rugged vegetation and being classified as the second largest desert in the world after Antarctica, the Arctic region is home to some of our world´s largest fresh water resources. (The USGS Water Science School). This may come as a surprise to many who thought that Sahara would be the largest desert in the world. (World Atlas – 10 Largest Deserts In The World).

Despite of its aridity, the indigenous people in the Arctic region have grown their cultures and traditions for thousands of years. Hunting, fishing, and herding of for instance reindeers has been part of the way of life of the indigenous populations, e.g. Inuits and Sàmis since they first arrived in the Arctic region. These traditions are now at a risk of diminishing, or even disappearing due to climate change, which alters the environment and weather (patterns) for both the human beings, fauna and flora in the Arctic region.

With caribous and reindeers being domesticated animals in the Arctic regions, the population of these is not currently directly at risk. However, many wild animals such as polar bears and seals could be at danger with the Arctic sea ice extent decreasing, and soon even completely disappearing during Arctic summer months near the North Pole. Darwinists may say “it is not the strongest of the species that survive, but those most adaptive to change”. This may still today be relevant, but Charles Darwin was an evolutionary scientist who lived in the 19th Century, and was lucky enough not to be obliged to witness what is happening in our world today, unless, of course, he is turning in his grave due to current world events.

Learn more about by watching Audiobook Channel´s video “Darwin and Theory of Evolution Documentary”:

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Anne-Maria Yritys 2017.

Climate Change Impacts Are Many And Complex (in the Arctic)

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With a rather quickly changing climate in the Arctic region, whereby the region´s climate has warmed more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth in the past three decades, can anyone keep pace with what is taking place? According to many scientists, researchers and universities, we have now less than a decade to bring down global temperatures to a safe level. If not, we could be heading towards a climate disaster, affecting all life on our planet.

Many climate change skeptics refuse to believe what is happening. Cynics state that it is too late to do anything, that we are already headed towards an unstoppable disaster. Various, quite recent, forecasts are already becoming factual, with extreme weather events becoming stronger and more frequent, sea levels rising, extreme droughts in some areas around our world while others have increasingly much rainfall and floods. Climate change is real, and most of the past century´s climate change is anthropogenic. This has been realized by majority of world population, most of whom take action in completely new, creative ways to prevent further human damage to our climate and environment.

Completely new innovations are making way for a sustainable future, in all sectors. With the energy sector being the most important in terms of combating anthropogenic climate change, the energy sector is now being transformed into renewable sources of energy. Renewable sources of energy are defined as fossil-free energy sources, excluding the usage of coal, gas and oil.

It is highly questionable whether for instance hydropower and nuclear power can be defined as environmentally friendly, or sustainable. For now, most of the world seems yet to depend upon both of these energy sources. What the energy market will be in twenty years from now is completely up to ourselves, our efforts as societies, governments and legislative actions around the world. Many countries are heading towards 100 % renewable energy from non-nuclear sources, such as wind and solar energy.

Agricultural and farming practices are the second largest emitter of climate changing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The food and agriculture sector has no other option than to transform, either through force of nature or by starting to implement sustainable changes into the industry before it is no longer a choice, but a necessity. Many people have since long made an individual choice of becoming vegan, which means voluntarily giving up the consumption of any animal products (dairy products, eggs, meat). Others decrease their consumption of meat without going completely vegetarian.

According to The Vegan Society, veganism is protected as a human right. In Britain alone, as estimated by The Vegan Society, the amount of vegans in 2016 rose up to more than half a million of total British population. Rise of The Vegan, on the other hand, reports that veganism has grown with 500 % in the United States since 2014, with six per cent of United States citizens now being vegan. BBC Future has reported that if the whole world population would eliminate red meat from their diets, food industry-related greenhouse gas emissions would decline with 60 %. If our whole world population went vegan, the amount of emissions would drop by 70 %. These are huge numbers, especially when many people around the world are unaware of how much the agriculture and food sectors contribute to releases in greenhouse gas emissions. While for now no one can be forced to become either vegetarian or vegan, we can all decide to decrease the amount of meat we consume by incorporating vegetarian/vegan days into our personal lives on a regular basis.

Learn more by watching “The Hidden Impacts of Climate Change”, published by VICE News on December 2nd, 2015:

 

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Saami Culture Must Be Secured Through Sustainable Management in the Arctic

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The Saami (Sámi), one of the world´s many indigenous populations, live in the Sápmi region, known in English as Lapland, in Northern Europe (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia). The total Sámi population is today around two million (2.000.000). In the Nordic countries, the Sámi population have their own parliaments. The Saami Council, a non-governmental umbrella organization, is based on Saami organizations. (SÁMIRÁDDI).

Although not acknowledged as a national language e.g. in Finland, the Saami population have the right to self-determination, including the right to determine their own economic and social development. (Saami Council). How can this be secured in (a) geographical region(s) belonging to various states, with a changing climate, and with a legislation that does not necessarily take into consideration the cultural heritage and old traditions of the Saami population. This is a question concerning Saami ´s in Finland and Norway in terms of a new restrictive legislation concerning fishing in Tenojoki (river Tana), expected to enter into force if and when the Finnish Parliament accepts it. According to YLE reporting about this new bilateral agreement, it could be a violation of the Saami people´s human rights. As a permanent participant in the Arctic Council, the Saami Council certainly has a strong foothold in the Arctic region, and in questions concerning the Arctic region.

Learn more about life in the Arctic in a changing climate by watching Thin Ice´s video “The Changing Arctic – Life in the Arctic – Sami view”:

 

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Stratospheric Ozone Depletion Up to 45% Below Normal in the Arctic

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According to ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment), a scientific research report first published in 2004, stratospheric ozone depletion of up to 45 % (per cent) below normal have been recorded in the Arctic region. To gain further insight, read one of my older posts UV Radiation Particularly Intense in The Arctic.

What on Earth is stratospheric ozone depletion? Stratospheric ozone depletion is defined as the decrease and/or disappearance of the stratospheric ozone layer which is a natural gas layer surrounding Earth´s atmosphere, protecting Earth from harmful solar UV radiation. The ozone layer is situated between approximately 15 and 30 kilometers from Earth´s surface. According to the WHO, the release of harmful CFC´s and other halocarbons into Earth´s atmosphere in the past decades leads to increased amounts of skin cancer.

For instance cosmic radiation is more powerful in space, and with a dysfunctional/ damaged stratospheric ozone layer cosmic radiation can more easily reach Earth. This is why e.g. flight personnel have log books where their amount of exposure to cosmic radiation is being measured and monitored. Stewardesses have, for example, a higher risk than other women of breast cancer, one reason why being a stewardess is one of the unhealthiest professions on Earth. An increased risk of cancer of course affects all flight personnel.

A damaged ozone layer takes several decades to “repair”, if even possible. Holes and complete disappearance of the ozone layer poses many risks to Earth and all life on this planet, from an increased amount of cancer to changes in Earth´s climate, especially in Earth´s most vulnerable regions: the North Pole (Arctic region) and South Pole (Antarctica). Strong, harmful UV rays damage not only human beings, but the environment (flora and fauna) everywhere.

Learn more about cosmic rays by watching SpaceRip´s video “NASA Telescope Discovers the Origin of Cosmic Rays”:

 

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Arctic Resources of Global Significance

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Arctic resources, with a reference to ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment), are of global significance. Although covering only about 2,5 % (per cent) of the world´s total surface, the Arctic region as one of the most scarcely populated areas on Earth is yet one of the most unexploited and has many resources of economic interest. These resources include: petroleum (oil and gas), and many minerals such as diamonds, tungsten, uranium, gold, coal, copper, and nickel. (The Arctic – With The Support of The Russian Geographical Society).

The Arctic Russia holds most (80 %) of the oil resources and is also home to all of the gas resources found in the Arctic region. What is the connecting link between the gas reserves in the Arctic Russia and the European energy market? According to Reuters, Kremlin is currently dependent upon oil and gas revenues and aims at increasing its market share in Europe by building Nord Stream 2, a project of Gazprom to build another gas pipeline connecting the Russian gas market directly with Germany, perhaps the most important of all EU member states which is yet depending much upon oil despite of its many developments in the renewable energy sector.

According to the European Commission, the EU has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 20 % (per cent) by 2020, and by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union by 80-95% (per cent) by 2050 in comparison to the situation in 1990. What gas and gas pipelines from Russia to Germany have to do with these goals remains an open question, with a Europe determined to strive for and invest in renewable energy sources and minimize the usage of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil.

Learn more about natural resources in the Arctic region by watching Al Jazeera English´s video “Counting the Cost – The new cold war: The Race for Arctic oil and gas”:

 

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Migratory Species in The Arctic Suffer From Climate Change

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Migratory species refers to all species that periodically “cross one or several national jurisdictional boundaries”. (InforMEA – migratory species – Definition(s). In other words, species that change their physical environment seasonally, because these cannot live/survive in the same geographical region around the year due to climatic conditions. Migratory species include for instance butterflies, birds, whales, seals, dolphins, turtles and insects. (Encyclopedia.com – Migratory Species).

Since migratory species are sensitive to climate change, a changing climate including even slight changes in environmental conditions can lead to these species changing their habitat/routes. The Bonn Convention (EUR-Lex-Access to European Union law) for Conservation of migratory species aims at developing international cooperation for conservation of migratory species of wild animals. As stated in the Bonn Convention, “wild animals require special attention because of their importance from the environmental, ecological, genetic, scientific, recreational, cultural, educational, social and economic points of view”. Furthermore, according to the Bonn Convention, parties must prevent migratory species from becoming endangered through promotion, cooperation and supporting research related to migratory species. Read the complete act here.

According to ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment), climate change impacts upon animals and their habitats in the Arctic region will endanger the livelihood of certain species, including polar bears and seals that depend upon sea ice for many reasons: giving birth, resting, and hunting. If the sea ice disappears, these animals will be threatened by extinction. Other animals in the Arctic that are threatened by climate change include many migratory bird species, and even caribou and reindeer herds.

Learn more about the Bonn Convention and the protection of migratory species by watching Bonn Convention´s video: “Listen: Reconciling Energy Developments with Migratory Species Conservation”:

 

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Indigenous Communities in the Arctic Threatened By Climate Change

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An indigenous community consists of an indigenous population in a specific geographical area/territory who were present in that area before modern states and current borders (WHO – Indigenous populations). Indigenous populations live around the world. In the Arctic region, indigenous people are for instance Saami, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk, Chukchi, Aleut, Yupik, and Inuit. (Arctic Centre – University of Lapland – Arctic Indigenous Peoples). According to the University of Lapland, the Arctic region is today home to some four million people (13.1 million people live in the circumpolar north). (Nordregio – Indigenous population in the Arctic).

Although the Sami language has no official status as a national language in Finland, the Sami people have a legislative right to use and to maintain their own culture and language. Note from author: Finland has two official languages today, Finnish and Swedish. Finland´s national public service broadcasting company Yle offers news in the two official languages Finnish and Swedish, but also in Sami, sign language and in Russian, with more than 30.000 Russians living in Finland according to statistics from 2016: Statistics Finland – Foreign Citizens

Indigenous population everywhere in the world, now discussing indigenous population in the Arctic region including Saami and Inuit people, are known for living according to the laws and rules of nature, i.e. natural way of living by causing as little as possible damage to the environment through their way of living. With climate change and legislative changes made without consideration for the indigenous population e.g. regarding the Saami people´s right to traditional fishing in Arctic rivers, indigenous people in the Arctic region now face completely new challenges for livelihood. For example Saami people have reported that due to climate change, weather is now almost impossible to predict, and ice sheets are becoming thin.

Learn more about what Saami´s think about new salmon fishing restrictions by watching 350.org´s video “Climate justice in Sápmi: Áslat Holmberg, Fisherman & Politician”:

 

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Climate Warming Increases Impacts on Arctic Ecosystems

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Climate change and climate warming in the Arctic Region (parts of the United States, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), at least in the short-term, brings completely new economic opportunities to the region overall. A major opportunity is tourism, although it is questionable whether an increase in tourism in the Arctic region is a consequence of climate change and warming, or rather a question of marketing. Should we rather ask what the consequences of an increase in tourism has on the Arctic region? And, how tourism can be developed in a sustainable way, with as little as possible negative impacts on the environment.

Tourism itself is not the actual problem, since it leads to economic development and growth in any region. The possible problems include the effects of everything that has to do with tourism, such as energy and transport. In fact, offering tourists for example increasingly much direct flights to a tourist destination has less environmental impacts than inefficient flight routes.

After the slump and financial crisis in Iceland 2008-2011, the islands tourism is today flourishing more than ever, as is the tourism in Finnish Lapland. In Iceland this has led to a drastic increase in prices, which of course has nothing to do with climate change. In Finnish Lapland, however, where ski races are being organized each winter, artificial snow has been used for years already since there has not been enough natural snowfall before and during the annual ski races. In fact, although South Korea is not part of the Arctic region, it is hosting the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. Due to a (risk of) lack of snow, the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 has to rely upon artificial, imported snow. Lack of snow around the world, including the Arctic region, is becoming so common that it is already a reality that artificial snow has to be depended upon.

Understanding and responding to the challenges, risks/threats and opportunities with a changing climate in the Arctic region is not an unequivocal task. Some find completely new business opportunities through the warming of the region (and, the whole world), such as creating artificial snow. In short, an ice-free Arctic sea is by many businesses regarded as a huge opportunity to save costs, regardless of the possible risks involved in e.g. shipping through the Arctic sea. What businesses and consumers must realize is how to develop sustainable practices and how to ensure as little as possible environmental damage.

Learn more about sustainability by watching University of Copenhagen´s (UCPH) video “Sustainability Lecture: Community Health and Sustainability in Arctic Alaska”:

 

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Arctic Climate Change Leads to Major Impacts on the Environment

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It is already crystal clear that Arctic climate change and warming leads to climate change and warming everywhere else on Earth. The damage that has already been caused by human beings is irreversible, since scientists think that there is no returning back to what once was. The question is, how can we minimize anthropogenic influences upon the Arctic region´s and Earth´s climate from now on, and, in the future? Climate research and science is essential in order to develop an understanding of what is happening both in the Arctic, in Antarctica and everywhere else on Earth.

Despite of the many efforts already being taken around our planet, the carbon dioxide levels in Earth´s atmosphere have been higher than ever in 2017. We have to work smarter and make serious efforts i.e. take action upon stopping this development, according to what was agreed in Paris in 2015.

The Paris Agreement, like the Montreal Protocol, have to be taken seriously: it was not until the huge holes in Earth´s ozone layer, caused by the usage of destructive halocarbons by human beings, were discovered that leaders and governments forced themselves to take action in order to protect our ozone layer from further damage, hoping to restore the damage once caused through anthropogenic activities.

Now we are facing an increasingly much dangerous situation, whereby Earth can no longer deal with all the greenhouse gases, toxins and pollution that are being released by thoughtless human beings. We have to be able to learn from our past mistakes and focus upon creating a sustainable environment for biodiversity and for future generations. One major step in this process includes taking into consideration the changes and warming that is occurring in Earth´s both poles: the Arctic region and Antarctica, both of which are scarcely inhabited, remote geographical regions, yet, which have a major impact upon Earth´s overall climate.

Learn more about why President Obama banned future offshore oil drilling in the Arctic by watching CBS News´s video “President Obama bans future offshore oil drilling in Arctic”:

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