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Arctic Case Study Global Warming


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Arctic Case Study Global Warming

  1. 1. Climate Change Case Study: The Arctic
  2. 2. Why is the Arctic important?
  3. 3. Arctic surfaces reflect the sun’s heat back out to space, and cool the surface
  4. 4. Surfaces reflects different amounts of heat energy. Most is absorbed by dark forests that are expected to replace tundra in the future; if sea ice is replaced by ocean water heat balance will also change. 20% reflected by tundra vegetation 5% reflected by black spruce forest 85-95% reflected by snow 10% reflected by ocean water
  5. 5. Ice Albedo feedback loop
  6. 6. It re-distributes the earth’s heat Deep, salty water sinks, drawing in warmer, fresher water
  7. 7. Early warnings?• Ice withdrawal 'shatters record' • Arctic sea ice shrank to the smallest area on record this year, US scientists have confirmed. • The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said the minimum extent was 4.13 million sq km. • The figure shatters all previous satellite surveys, including the previous record of 5.32 million sq km in 2005. • Earlier this month, it was reported that the Northwest Passage was open. BBC 2007
  8. 8. Arctic plants capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide faster than soils release it. Arctic soils have accumulated 11% of the world’s soil carbon Carbon dioxide uptake in slow photosynthesis Carbon dioxide uptake in slow photosynthesis Carbon dioxide release in very slow decomposition Permafrost
  9. 9. Computer models predict that the Arctic will warm faster than anywhere else on earth, and particularly in winter (up to 120 C) Arctic Global
  10. 10. Sea ice is already melting (apart from 2007-9!)
  11. 11. Storglaciären lost 29% of its mass between 1910 and 1980 Storglaciären 1910
  12. 12. Summer sea ice extent in mid September will become reduced by 50% by about 2050
  13. 13. • There are some possible benefits of changing ice conditions: Making new gas and oil fields more accessible (25% of reserves are in the Arctic Prolonging the navigation season and opening new shipping routes 45% shorter than through Suez
  14. 14. Increased tourism and mineral exploitation opportunities
  15. 15. • There is also continued pressure to develop ‘domestic’ resources. • These could include the ANWR
  16. 16. Significant wider impacts on people
  17. 17. Significant changes to vegetation belts
  18. 18. 1950 2002 Alaska An invasion of trees and shrubs on tundra grasslands
  19. 19. Summary: changes (by 2100) in sea ice extent, vegetation and permafrost. ACIA, 2005