Implications of Arctic Sea Ice Decline for the Earth System

Arctic sea ice decline has led to an amplification of surface warming and is projected to continue to decline from anthropogenic forcing, although the exact timing of ice-free summers is uncertain owing to large natural variability. Sea ice reductions affect surface heating patterns and the atmospheric pressure distribution, which may alter midlatitude extreme weather patterns. Increased light penetration and nutrient availability during spring from earlier ice breakup enhances primary production in the Arctic Ocean and its adjacent shelf seas. Ice-obligate marine mammals may be losers, whereas seasonally migrant species may be winners from rapid sea ice decline. Tundra greening is occurring across most of the Arctic, driven primarily by warming temperatures, and is displaying complex spatial patterns that are likely tied to other factors. Sea ice changes are affecting greenhouse gas exchanges as well as halogen chemistry in the Arctic. This review highlights the heterogeneous nature of Arctic change, which is vital for researchers to better understand.

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Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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