Global warming poses, probably the biggest threat to Arctic natural environment. It occurs as the effect of climate change on all Arctic physical systems such as sea ice and ice cap, atmosphere and oceans, permafrost and snow. What is more, the global warming effect has a great impact on diverse biological systems such as endangered Arctic species and remote, ecosystems.
Even though the climate change occurs on all Arctic system levels as listed above, it notably touches the Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet. The scientific research shows, that the changes caused by the global warming are happening much faster than expected.
In terms of magnitude of the ongoing changes within the northern hemisphere, the melting Greenlandic Ice Cap could largely contribute to the global rise of the level of the oceans. Currently, Greenland is covered by the ice sheet which volume reaches close to 2.9 million km3, what is, excluding Antarctic ice sheet, the world´s record.
It was measured that if the Greenlandic sea ice was to melt, the world´s average sea level would rise by about 7.3 m. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment does not predict the timeframe for the issue to be completed.
Warming temperature and longer summer period in the Arctic decreased the sea ice to reach 39% less than twenty years ago. It was measured that in the past couple of years the sea ice extent went down to 4.3 million km2.
Melting ice cap is the first and the most visible effect of the climate change. Following effects as on the ocean circulation, atmosphere and Arctic natural environment can be easily predicted and rapidly grow to be a global concern. The Arctic states have taken necessary steps to mitigate the impacts of the climate change on Arctic ice sheet, however the ongoing challenge doubtlessly requires the world wide response.
Source: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment