According to a newly released report from the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) released yesterday, September 2nd, it would appear that the current warming trend recorded in the Arctic could have massive repercussions on our planet.
The study shows that as much as one quarter of the globe’s population could be flooded, and that greenhouse gas emissions would increase substantially, once all the gases stored in the ices would be released back into the atmosphere. The changes that would follow would also bring about extreme worldwide weather events, the paper says.
The new research, entitled “Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications,” paints a much bleaker picture than previous predictions, and should give politicians attending this December’s UN climate summit, in Copenhagen, Denmark, something to think about.
The paper was written by top scientists in their respective fields, and was peer-reviewed to ensure that maximum accuracy and scientific rigor was maintained throughout it.
“What they found was a truly sobering picture. What this report says is that a warming Arctic is much more than a local problem, it’s a global problem. Simply put, if we do not keep the Arctic cold enough, people across the world will suffer the effects,” WWF Arctic Program Senior Climate Change Advisor Dr. Martin Sommerkorn says.
He adds that Arctic feedbacks – processes and phenomena triggered by external, warming influences – have already begun to affect nearby regions, and that the effects will spread all over the globe within a short time frame.
Europe and the United States are mostly at risk in the short term. Atmospheric circulation and weather patterns are already beginning to fall under the influence of the Arctic feedbacks. Agriculture, water supplies and forestry are the first to fall under this influence and prompt further changes of their own, for example inside ecosystems.
The effects will only grow with time, if Arctic warming is not stopped, as more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be found in frozen soils and wetlands. CO2 has been proven to be the main driver of global warming.
Additionally, the WWF report also shows that the levels of methane in the Arctic have been increasing constantly for the past two years, most likely because of the warming soils and melting ices. Significant amounts of the highly potent GHG have been trapped in the ices and soils for millions of years, and releasing them into the atmosphere would considerably change the ratios of gases in the air.
The organization also shows that sea levels will increase by more than one meter (three feet) by 2100, a prediction that surpasses the 2007 one, published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“This report shows that it is urgently necessary to rein in greenhouse gas emissions while we still can. If we allow the Arctic to get too warm, it is doubtful whether we will be able to keep these feedbacks under control,” Sommerkorn adds.
“We need to listen now to these signals from the Arctic, and take the necessary action in Copenhagen this December to get a deal that quickly and effectively limits greenhouse gas emissions,” the Director General of WWF International, James Leape, concludes.