The Arctic is a huge territory located on the northern pole and covering more than 14.5 million square kilometers. It consists of the Arctic Ocean, numerous islands (Spitsbergen, Greenland, Wrangel Island, Novosibirsk Island, etc.), as well as the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Norway (Polar Discovery, 2006). Almost all territory of the Arctic is covered by water – the liquid saltwater of the ocean and frozen freshwater of snow, glaciers, and icebergs (National Geographic, 2017). It is one of the coldest places on Earth where the summer temperatures rarely reach 10°C. In winter, the sunlight does not reach this land, so the temperatures can drop below – 40 °C. Despite these harsh climate conditions, the Arctic is home to large mammals like reindeer, Arctic fox, and the polar bear, as well as to a great variety of smaller land and marine species. The gradual climate change threatens this fragile land and changes its geography, vividly demonstrating that the coldest regions are affected by the global warming the most.
Recent research showed that the Arctic has experienced rising temperatures for the past decades that explain the changing face of the north pole (Vidal, 2016). Scientists have detected alarmingly high sea surface and air temperatures that are not characteristic of this part of the planet. Moreover, in November and December, sea temperatures are 4 °C than usual, which vividly shows that the Arctic is becoming warmer (Vidal, 2016). For the territory almost entirely covered by ice, these rising temperatures are dangerous because they undermine the fragile environmental balance.
Photos taken from the space, as well as scientific data obtained recently demonstrate the disastrous effect of global warming on the Artic geography. During the past 25 years, sea ice has declined by more than 30%. It means that the water that once remained frozen during the summer now melts every season. Some scientists suggest that by 2100, all Arctic sea ice will melt in summer months (National Geographic, 2017). The ancient glaciers whose geography has largely remained the same for centuries now melt at the unprecedented rate. The implications of these changes are already seen in the devastation of habitats and reduced biodiversity. However, it is projected that the redefined geography of the Arctic will soon be felt across the globe because of the rising sea level and the threats of floods and other natural disasters.
National Geographic. (2017). Arctic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/arctic/
Polar Discovery. (2006). Arctic: Location and geography. Retrieved from http://polardiscovery.whoi.edu/arctic/geography.html
Vidal, J. (2016, 22 November). ‘Extraordinarily hot’ Arctic temperatures alarm scientists. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/22/extraordinarily-hot-arctic-temperatures-alarm-scientists
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