Arctic Melting :
The Arctic Circle is one of the most unique regions of diversity both geographically and biologically in the world.
It holds up to 20% of the world’s freshwater reserve and is home to species like Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, Snowy Owls, Harp Seals, and many more that are found nowhere else on the planet. The Arctic is also home to some of the oldest indigenous communities in the world.
Despite holding all these regional diversities, Arctic Circle is now at a greater risk than ever before due to the global warming and unprecedented climate change.
Arctic ice sheets are melting at a record-level where the sea-ice is declining and exposing the ocean to warm up which in turn contributes more to global warming.
Arctic melting is affecting everything…
The Arctic melting has triggered a devastating change in the Arctic marine ecosystem. And this shifting change is also impacting the lives of the indigenous communities that are dependent on it, especially in the Bering Sea region.
Approximately 267 billion metric tons of ice is being lost from the Greenland ice sheets every year.
The Arctic region like mainland Canada, North Slope of Alaska, and the far eastern parts of Russia is opening up for vegetation to grow.
These changes are adversely affecting the natural Arctic ecosystem and the local indigenous communities. The melting arctic ice sheets are contributing to a 0.7 mm sea-level rise annually which increases the risk of submerging the coastal cities.
Arctic permafrost thawing is releasing approximately 300-600 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year. The decreasing sea-ice cover is increasing the potential of ocean waters absorbing the heat rather than reflecting it.
The warming Arctic waters are drawing the marine life towards it from their natural habitats which impact the balanced food-chain in other oceans.
The migrating fishes’ changing routes are now affecting the indigenous communities that have co-existed with the marine ecosystem for 1000s of years.
The Arctic melting is stressing the wildlife. For instance, almost 70% of the Ivory Gulls’ breeding population decreased since the 1980s. Even the top predators of the Arctic food-chain, the Polar bears are dying of starvation due to the lack of prey animals like seals in their hunting grounds.
Image source: Wikipedia
The Bering Sea and the Barents Sea are the most affected with Subarctic and Arctic fish species have started towards the extreme north.
According to the Arctic Report Card, the indigenous elders of Bering Sea communities said that in the warming Arctic, access to their subsistence foods is shrinking and becoming more hazardous to hunt and fish.
They also said that the thawing permafrost and more frequent and higher storm surges are increasingly threatening their homes, airports, schools, and utilities.
If the same trend of the Arctic melting continues, the Arctic region will be free of ice within 2100. Scientists say that it is now too late to avert the disaster but immediate action by every government of the world is needed to control and reduce the changing effects.