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2021 Arctic Report Card reveals (human) story about cascading disruptions. Extreme events. Global connections
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2021 Arctic Report Card reveals (human) story about cascading disruptions. Extreme events. Global connections

2021 Arctic Report Card reveals a (human) story of cascading disruptions, extreme events and global connections


The Arctic has long been seen as a distant place at the end of the Earth, isolated from our daily lives. However, as the planet heats up, what will happen in this icy area? Temperatures are rising twice as fast than the rest of the worldIt is affecting our lives in an increasing number Around the world.

A team of 111 scientists representing 12 countries released the 16th annual report on December 14, 2021. Arctic Report CardThe Arctic system status update is available here. We are Arctic ScientistsThe peer-reviewed assessment editors. In the report, we take a diverse look across the region’s interconnected physical, ecological and human components.

Like an annual checkup with a physician, the report assesses the Arctic’s vital signs – including surface air temperatures, sea surface temperatures, Sea ice, Snow cover, The Greenland ice sheets, Tundra greening, Ocean algae increase photosynthesis rates – while inquiring into other indicators of health and emerging factors that shed light on the trajectory of Arctic changes.

As the report states, rapid and pronounced changes in human-caused climate continue to drive most of the changes and eventually is paving way for disruptions that can affect communities and ecosystems all over the globe.

The 2021 Arctic Report Card: A closer look

Continued loss of ice

Arctic Sea ice – a central vital sign and one of the most iconic indicators of global climate change – continues to shrinkBelow warming temperatures

Including data from 2021, 15 of the lowest summer sea ice extents – the point when the ice is at its minimum reach for the year – All of these events have occurred within the last 15 yearsThis is a record that dates back to 1979, when satellites began monitoring the region.

The sea ice is also thinning at an alarming rate as the Arctic’s oldest and thickest multi-year ice disappears. This loss of sea ice diminishes the Arctic’s ability to cool the global climate. It can also be alter lower latitude weather systemsTo an extent that makes previously rare, but still important weather events like droughts and heat waves, more likely.

The same goes for the Permanent melting of the Greenland glacierOther land-based ice is increasing sea levels around the world, increasing the risk of coastal flooding, disrupting drinking and waste water systems, as well as coastal erosion.


Arctic that is warmer and wetter

The Arctic system is witness to this transition from ice and water, as well as its effects.

These are the eight major Arctic rivers discharging more freshwaterIn the Arctic Ocean, this is a reflection on an Arctic-wide rise in water coming off land as a consequence of precipitation, permafrost melting and ice melt. Remarkably, the summit of the Greenland ice sheet – over 10,000 feet above sea level – experienced its First ever recorded rainfall in summer 2021.

These developments point towards a changing Arctic today. These developments also lend credence to new modeling studiesThese data show that the Arctic could transition from a snow-dominated system to a rain-dominated system in the summer and autumn if global temperatures rise to 1.5 degrees Celisus (2.7 F) below pre-industrial times. The world has Already warmed by 1.2 C (2.2F).

This shift to more rain and fewer snow would further transform landscapes, causing faster glacier retreats and permafrost losses. Permafrost melting can have a significant impact on ecosystems and other areas. Climate warming can be aided byBy allowing frozen animal and plant remains to decompose, additional greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

This year’s report highlights how retreating glaciers and deteriorating permafrost are also posing growing Human life at risk from flooding and landslides in an abrupt and localized manner. It calls for international coordination to identify these hazards. These dangers will only be exacerbated by more rain in Arctic.


Rising human impact

The Arctic’s observed changes and disruptions have had a direct impact on our daily lives and actions around the world, as well as serving as stark reminders of the range of human-caused climate and ecosystem damage.

An Arctic Report Card essay Arctic tundra is seeing beavers expand northwardTo exploit new favorable conditions is a case study of how species around the globe are moving as habitats responds to climate shifts. It also shows the need for new forms collaborative monitoring to assess the extent of the ecological transformations.

An essay on Shipping garbage and marine debris washed ashore at the Bering Sea CoastThis immediate threat to food security in the area reminds us that both micro-and macro-plastics in our oceans pose a threat to our food security. the most pressing challenge of our time.

A report on shipping noise increasingly infiltrating the Arctic’s underwater marine soundscapeTo the detriment marine mammals, it is a call for conservation of the integrity of natural soundscapes around the world. For example, recent unrelated studyIt was found that noise from human activities and biodiversity loss are both affecting the soundscapes of spring songbirds in North America, and Europe.

Donna Erickson cuts fish in a camp near Unalakleet Alaska,
Jeff Erickson

But, an Arctic Report Card essay by Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network members highlights how, despite the continued climate threats to Arctic food systems, Alaska Indigenous communities weathered early pandemic disruptions to food security through their cultural values for sharing and “community-first” approaches.

Their cooperation and adaptability are a lesson for other struggling communities worldwide. They also remind everyone that the Arctic is a home. Large-scale disruptions to the over 1,000,000 Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic are not uncommon and that solutions can be found in practices based on reciprocity.

An Arctic connected with the rest of the globe

The Arctic Report Card collects observations from the circumpolar North and analyses them within a polar projection. This places the Arctic in the center, with all meridians radiating outward to the rest.

The Arctic Report Card includes some information about the Arctic events of 2021.

In this view, the Arctic is tethered to societies worldwide through a myriad of exchanges – the natural circulation of air, ocean and contaminants, the migration of animals and invasive species, as well as human-driven transport of people, pollution, goods and natural resources. The Arctic is warming, which allows for More marine accessSea ice loss allows ships to travel deeper into Arctic waters for longer periods of times.

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These realities highlight the need for international cooperation in conservation and hazard mitigation as well as scientific research.

Already, the Arctic has seen unprecedented rapid environmental and social change. A more accessible Arctic will result in a world that is more tightly connected.


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