Increased extreme weather events predicted due to effect of climate change on the Arctic
Madrid, 7 June 2016 — The effects of climate change on the Arctic — including melting ice andsea level rise — may possibly alter weather patterns in the northernhemisphere. These effects could include hotter, drier summers in some areas,wetter summers in other areas, and cold, stormy winters in others, according tostudies compiled by the Greenpeace Research Laboratories in the report, “Whathappens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic” which is published today.
Greenpeace Spain arctic campaigner Sara del Río, said:
“There seems no doubt that warming of the Arctic region isa major contributory factor to mid-latitude weather patterns. Althoughscientists are trying now to understand better the influence of the complexatmospheric processes of the poles, under a precautionary approach, it isextremely urgent to take action to combat climate change and to protect theArctic.”
The Arctic ecosystem is warming more than twice as fast asany other region in the world, the total area of summer sea ice in the Arctichas decreased substantially over the last 30 years while sea ice volume hasreduced even more substantially. This means that more heat is being exchangedbetween the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding atmosphere and the reflectiveability of the ice (surface albedo) is reduced. Furthermore, the release ofharmful greenhouse gases from their long-term storage in the Arctic permafrostwill further add to global climate change.
As the Arctic environment is integral to global climatesystems, there have been notable alterations in storm tracks, the jet-stream,as well as northern oceanic circulations. Blocked atmospheric planetary wavesare leading to ‘stuck’ weather patterns that cause more persistent weather at agiven location. These changes appear to be influencing the weather acrossmid-latitudes, with profound effects on our daily lives.
“A series of unprecedented weather extremes have beenrecorded throughout the last decade – ‘Super-storms’, droughts, heat waves,floods and record breaking snowy winters. Climate modelling suggests that theseextreme weather events will become even more common in the future, causingheavy human and economic losses”, added Sara del Río, Greenpeace ArcticCampaigner.
As the sea ice recedes in the Arctic Ocean, fishing,maritime transport and hydrocarbon exploration will encroach further on thenorthern waters, including those beyond national controls, increasing thethreats that this currently still relatively pristine region is already facing.
Despite these threats and likely increasing pressures inthe future, this fragile and critically important ocean is still the leastprotected worldwide. Greenpeace advocates the establishment of an ArcticSanctuary (a highly protected area prohibiting all extractive industries in theinternational waters around the North Pole). The designation of the “Arctic IceHigh Seas Marine Protected Area” by the OSPAR Commission would be a steptowards this goal and would provide some protection for the Arctic’s vulnerablespecies and habitats during a time of global change. It will also allow aprecautionary and adaptive management of any future human activities across theregion.
Voices for the Arctic
Along with the report Greenpeace has produced a pack ofphotoshopped artistic images that want to illustrate the impact of futureclimate impact around the world, inspired on the report evidences. Theorganization is aiming for people around the word to send their reasons to savethe Arctic using the site www.voicesforthearctic.org Greenpeace, has alreadygathered almost 8 million signatures demanding Arctic protection and will deliverpeoples statements for protection of the Arctic during a grand piano performanceplayed by Ludovico Einaudi.