LONDON—If the world fails to slow the pace of climate change very soon by cutting emissions of the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet, Arctic tipping points threaten to overwhelm the region, new research reveals.
Not only that—the authors of the Arctic Resilience Report say the changes that are liable to affect the high northern latitudes could also trigger drastic changes worldwide.
The report, written by an international research team, is a project of the Arctic Council. It says the signs of change in the Arctic itself are everywhere. Temperatures nearly 20°C above the seasonal average are being felt over the Arctic Ocean. Summer sea-ice cover has hit new record lows several times in the past decade. Infrastructure built on permafrost, including houses, roads and railways, is sinking as the ground beneath thaws.
But the authors say that underlying these distinct impacts is a much larger trend. At the scale of entire ecosystems, the Arctic is fundamentally threatened by climate change and other consequences of human activities.