The Arctic is warming at more than double the rate of the rest of the planet, according to an international study. And scientists believe the observed thaw is a predictor of major changes for the rest of the planet. These include floods and rising sea levels that threaten low-lying Pacific islands.
The research, conducted by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), reveals that ice is melting and impacting native Inuit hunters as well as plants and animals in the eight countries of the Arctic rim. The thaw threatens to destabilise buildings and an oil pipeline in Alaska, United States.
Warming in the Arctic will also affect shipping, the scientists predict. They suggest that by 2050 the Northern Sea Route between the Atlantic and the Pacific will be open for 100 days of the year. Currently, it is open for only 20 days a year and ships must instead use the longer routes via the Suez and Panama canals.