What is happening in the Arctic will not stay in the Arctic.
In an ominous (though not hopeless) report published Friday, researchers warn that as many as 19 various ‘tipping points’ could be triggered by the increasingly warm temperatures in the world’s northern polar region.
The Arctic Resilience Report, produced under the auspices of the Arctic Council by an international team of researchers from multiple institutes and universities, is the first comprehensive assessment of its kind, looking at the unique region from a combined social and ecological perspective. By surveying and synthesizing a large body of previous research on how both communities and natural systems are responding to global warming, the report offers a worrying conclusion.
“The warning signals are getting louder,” Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of the new report, told the Guardian. “[These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.”
The signs of dramatic change, the researchers found, are everywhere in the Arctic. “Temperatures nearly 20°C above the seasonal average are being registered over the Arctic Ocean,” the report states. “Summer sea-ice cover has hit new record lows several times in the past decade. Infrastructure built on permafrost is sinking as the ground thaws underneath.”