Thinner Sea Ice And Warmer Temperatures Are The Arctic's "New Normal", According To NOAA's 2017 Report

Polar bears need ample sea ice to access their prey. Maksimilian/Shutterstock

Rachel Baxter 13 Dec 2017, 13:47

Nevertheless, NOAA is quick to point out that these are anomalies and that a warmer Arctic appears to be the “new normal”. They also note that the Arctic “shows no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of past decades.”

Changes in the Arctic environment have profound effects on unique creatures like polar bears and walruses, which rely on ample sea ice to catch their prey. Meanwhile, NOAA notes that the effects “disproportionately affect the people of northern communities”, like the Inuit, who are reliant on sufficient ice and snow to build igloos, hunt seals, and fish.

"Villages are being washed away, particularly in the North American Arctic – creating some of the first climate refugees," Dr Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Researcher Program, told BBC News.

The people who make their home in the Arctic circle are most at risk from climate change. Chris Christophersen/Shutterstock

And while the effects of climate change will harm these people the most, it will impact all of us. “What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic; it affects the rest of the planet," acting NOAA chief Timothy Gallaudet told ABC News. "The Arctic has huge influence on the world at large."

Changes in the Arctic can directly affect the food we rely on by altering the dynamics of fisheries. Meanwhile, alterations in sea ice and temperature can affect the jet stream, which influences weather patterns across the globe. 

Arctic conditions are only expected to worsen, so it is essential that we act now. Many organizations and governments are already working to protect this unique ecosystem. Just recently, a number of global powers agreed to stop fishing in the Arctic over the next 16 years to allow scientists to find out more about the impacts of the quickly thawing ice. 

So, although it will never return to its original pristine state, there is still a glimmer of hope for our planet’s frozen north.  

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