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Impact Of Climate Change On Arctic Ice Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1816 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Climate change concerns to a statistically momentous deviation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, remaining for an extensive period (normally decades or longer) (What is climate change, 2001). Climate change is term that adverts to any major and long-term change in average weather in a specified region or whole Earth. Fundamentally important variability of average weather over longer time period can be depicted as climate change. Climate change is due to natural internal procedures or external pressures, or to relentless anthropogenic alterations in the composition of the atmosphere or in land utilization.

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Earlier in the beginnings of earth’s history climate changes were normally induced by different vibrant processes on earth but recently it is caused by human activities. This is the reason that in our everyday talks the term climate change refers to climate change caused by global warming. The most disposed signs of climate change are Arctic Sea Ice. Arctic Sea Ice is declining at rapid level which shows that change has already began. This time, climate change is only due to the recent human activities and had resulted in various negative outcomes.

From last two centuries, the world’s global mean temperature has amplified by 0.6°C (1°F) and it appears that the present trend goes beyond the natural climate variance. Due to this increased warming, the average temperatures of Arctic region have mounted almost twice as fast as in the rest of the world and in this region climate changes are being felt extremely (Eilperin & Sheridan, 2009). This warming in the region can be attributed to the present human activities that are directing towards climate change.

With the effect of the climate change, the Arctic sea ice cover is continually shrinking and becoming thinner and the region is warming more rapidly than scientists had anticipated. This is only due to the increased amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The amount of carbon dioxide has increased by 35% since the industrial revolution and it is mostly due to human activities like burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of land. In addition to this, extending greenhouse gas releases are also causing momentous change in climatic conditions, which in turn is affecting the Arctic sea ice.

This impact of climate change on the Arctic Sea Ice is making numerous negative effects on wildlife like polar bears and augmenting erosion of coastlines in Alaska and Siberia. Arctic sea ice loss is also resulting in the changes in atmospheric patterns that are causing condensed rainfall in the American West or amplified precipitation over western and southern Europe. If this situation of climate change is not managed, the decline in Arctic sea ice could also affect the whole world.


Significance & Scope of the Issue

The management of the issue of climate change and its impact on Arctic Sea Ice is essential as it could profoundly influence Arctic ecosystems, global climate and flow of oceans and atmosphere in the north. Sea ice impacts coastal areas in countless ways. Bottom ice in trivial water acts with sub-sea permafrost, which in turn controls erosion and sediment transport. The existence of sea ice precludes waves from eroding coastlines (Eilperin & Sheridan, 2009). The features of near-shore ice are critical in numerous respects and need to be prevented as soon as possible as otherwise it could direct in drastic results related with coastal area.

In addition to the impact on coastal areas, the Arctic sea ice also plays a prominent role in Arctic ecology, most noticeably for the numerous fish, bird and mammal species that live in, on, or beneath sea ice, or are otherwise inhibited or supported by its existence. The present altering sea ice conditions will not only make an impact on the marine ecosystem, but also it will have complications for terrestrial surroundings and the wildlife and people settled there (Sea Ice: Implications of changes in arctic sea ice, 2001).

Sea ice shelters the fundamental water column and blocks sunlight that in turns affects the productivity of the Arctic Ocean that is impelled by plankton and algae. With the sea ice changes all these sea related aspects are facing disruption. Ice-associated species had also started conferring radical changes and destructions (Scientific Facts on Arctic Climate Change, 2009). Inquiring these and other such alterations and their significances is decisive to comprehend the full role of sea ice in arctic ecology.

With the changes in sea ice, humans living in the Arctic region are also affected in numerous ways. Marine mammal hunters necessitate access to prey, which depends on the distribution, quality and movement of the ice fields. All these aspects impact the capability of the hunters to arrive at and carefully recover the animals that are gleaned (Sea Ice: Implications of changes in arctic sea ice, 2001). Changes in ice distribution may influence both access and scheduling of harvest, potentially conflicting with other seasonal activities.

Specific Causes of Change in Arctic Sea Ice

The specific causes of change in the Arctic Sea Ice are global warming, atmospheric changes and greenhouse releases. With the ever increasing release of greenhouse gases prominent changes has occurred in atmosphere, which in turn had increased the temperature. All these aspects are causing global warming, which directly or indirectly makes an effect on Arctic sea ice. On the whole it could be said that the most important reason of this change in Arctic sea ice is due to the climate change, which in turn is the result of following factors:

The most prominent reason of climate change is releasing of greenhouse gases and aerosols into the atmosphere. From last two hundred and fifty years, the concentrations of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide have increased due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy production (Climate Change, n.d.).

Another prominent reason of climate change and atmosphere change is deforestation, which is related with agriculture and urban development and harvesting timber for fuel, construction and paper (What causes global climate change, 2005).

Sulphate Aerosols and Black Carbon are other two crucial instances of anthropogenic forcings. Current industrial activities have recently increased the concentration of sulphate aerosols and black carbon in the atmosphere that is making imperative effect on our climate in the form of drastic weather events and reduction in Arctic sea ice.

Critical Analysis & Evaluation of Environmental and Ecological Consequences

Climate change and its effects on the Arctic sea ice is the most serious environmental issue in present as it is frightening the world environment and Arctic ecology. Average annual temperatures in the Arctic region have altered greatly in comparison to the increase in global average temperatures. With the impact of global warming, effects like higher temperatures rise in sea-level, melting of sea ice and glaciers, augmented precipitation in some regions and drought in others are become very common (Arctic Sea Ice Decline May Trigger Climate Change Cascade, 2007).

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With this global warming and climate change, the Arctic region is warming at an alarming rate and this had a distressing affect on Arctic ecosystems, admitting sea ice, permafrost, forests and tundra. Melting sea ice is affecting populations of marine mammals, caribou, polar bears and the continuation livelihoods of people, which in turn is creating an imbalance among the ecological system (Scientific Facts on Arctic Climate Change, 2009). With these changes in sea ice, a number of wildlife populations of Arctic region are forced to adapt to changes in their habitats.

Thawing permafrost the result of sea ice changes has damaged houses, roads, airports and pipelines and is inducing landscape erosion, slope unsteadiness and landslides. All these environmental consequences are becoming unmanageable. The important features of Arctic environment like forest and tundra ecosystem had started damaging due to this impact of climate change (Effects of Climate Change Today, 2010). This in turn is resulting into forest disturbance, insect outbreaks, blow down and fire. Climate warming Climate warming and insect infestations are making forests more susceptible to forest fire. On the whole, it could be said that changes in Arctic sea ice is causing significant environmental and ecological consequences.

Success of Solutions Proposed & Applied

Climate change is affecting the whole world and prominently the Arctic sea ice. Number of developed and developing countries are working together to discover the solution of environmental challenge of climate change. From the time, this issues has emerged a number of efforts had been done some of which had attained success and some had failed. In June 1992, 154 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that corresponded to alleviate the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that would not cause destruction and further consequences.

In Kyoto, in December 1997, Japan, Canada and 160 other industrialized nations committed to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions, as component of an international agreement on climate change identified as the Kyoto Protocol. This eventually came into force throughout 2005 (Climate Change, n.d.). In addition to this another environmental agreement, World Heritage Convention is also made in this regard.

Till the time these efforts had not attained immense success but with these efforts modest emission reductions had been encountered from industrialised countries. Countries are trying to reduce their emissions as now they had become aware with its severe results and further consequences that are resulting in decrease in Arctic sea ice.


With this detailed discussion, it could be said that sea ice is a key constituent of the Arctic environment. Directly or indirectly it is striking many of the oceanographic, climatic, ecological and human patterns that portray the region. Changes in sea ice need to be controlled as otherwise it could have significant negative implications for all the above discussed systems.

For maintaining present situation, it is essential that all of us become aware with the future consequences of climate change as without this it is not possible to reduce the processes through which climate change is occurring actually. With the understanding of its environmental and ecological consequences it could be said that it is the most severe environmental issue in present.


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