The twenty-first century Arctic environment: accelerating change in the atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial spheres

2017-02-14T11:22:13Z (GMT) by Richard Hodgkins
The Arctic possesses distinctive environmental characteristics that act as strong, positive feedbacks on atmospheric warming; in fact, it is almost uniquely susceptible to rapid change brought about through climate warming from both natural and anthropogenic sources. The aim of this commentary is to outline recent and probable future environmental changes in the Arctic. It commences with a consideration of rates of change through the satellite era in air temperatures, sea ice extent, snow cover and the state of balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet. This is subsequently set against fluctuations over previous centuries and millennia. From this observational basis, the commentary moves on to consider factors which particularly amplify rates of change in high northern latitudes, before addressing further feedbacks which may become important, and how Arctic changes may proceed up to the year 2100.