Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Climate Change in the Arctic

Global warming is impeding the Earth’s natural climate. The Arctic is a region which is very sensitive to the changes of Earth’s atmosphere and therefore demonstrates many of the effects climate change has on our planet’s environment. By studying the Arctic we can observe the changes that are already occurring and learn what we must do to protect our the Earth.

Rising temperatures are causing the Arctic sea ice to melt. The sea ice helps to moderate temperatures by reflecting sunlight out of Earth’s atmosphere. As the ice melts, temperatures increase which in turn causes more ice to melt.

Melting Sea Ice.jpg

If all the sea ice were to melt it would cause devastation to numerous arctic species as well as negatively affecting other regions of the world. A major area of concern for ice melt is the Greenland ice sheet. It is estimated that if the Greenland ice sheet were to melt it would rise sea level by seven metres. Over seventy percent of the world’s population lives in coastal regions. A rise in sea level that immense would substantially affect many people as they would be forced to move closer inland as homes, neighbourhoods and cities flood. There would also be many habitats lost and ecosystems damaged by this flooding.

Many Arctic species rely on the ice. As the ice melts away they lose their habitat. With no where left to go many species will become extinct. Polar bears make there homes on the ice. They are one of the many animals that have become endangered do to climate change. Without the ice polar bears cannot hunt for food or make their proper dens in the snow. The lack of ice means the bears have to swim greater distances and many of them are drowning. There are also many bears dying do to conflicts with humans. With the lose of there own natural environment many bears are forced into areas of human civilization.


The Arctic marine life is also threatened by climate change. The oceans, especially in Arctic regions, are absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere which causes the oceans to become more acidic. As the ocean become more acidic, aragonite and calcite, compounds needed for the construction of shells, become depleted. If the acidification continues the oceans will become corrosive to shell-building creatures. The lose of these creatures would disrupt the Arctic ecosystem as these organisms would no longer be available as a food source.

To help the Arctic there are steps that need to be taken. To start the level of CO2 emissions must be reduced. This can be achieved by being more energy efficient and by choosing to use renewable energy instead of the alternatives which create greenhouse gases. Even changes around your home can help save the Arctic. You can switch to using energy efficient light bulbs and other green products. It is also important to remember to always turn off energy consuming devices after you have finished with them.

The Arctic wildlife must also be protected. With the coming climate change there will be many organisms facing habitat loss, food shortages and other problems that may lead to their extinction. It is critical that we give these creatures their best chance at survival. There are many factors that contribute to wildlife harm that must be faced to improve the conditions in the Arctic. For instance we need to work to decrease the overhunting of Arctic animals as well as protect them from oil spills and loss of habitat.

We are all responsible for the harm done to our planet. If we do not make the changes that are needed, not only will we lose some of this planets most fascinating creatures but that will only be the beginning of the harm done to our planet. The destruction caused by global warming will not just be in the Arctic regions, it will be felt all over the world. The conditions in the Arctic are only the warming signs, without taking proper action now we may not be able to reverse the harm that we have already caused.

Megan Cowan

Reference List:

Shaye Wolf. Sept. 2010. Extinction. It’s Not Just for Polar Bears. A Center for Biological Diversity and Care for the Wild International Report. Retrieved from

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