ARCTIC: CLIMATE IMPACT (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     16th December 2023        
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Context: The 2023 summer was the warmest on record in the Arctic, which, due to climate change, has warmed nearly four times faster than the globe since 1979. 

oOverall, the past year was the sixth-warmest year the Arctic had experienced since reliable record-keeping began in 1900.

Thawing Of Subsea Permafrost

  • About: Subsea permafrost refers to frozen soil beneath the seabed containing organic matter.
  • Historical Thawing: While experiencing a gradual thaw over thousands of years, recent warmer ocean temperatures have accelerated this process.
  • Environmental Impact: Thawing subsea permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming and exacerbating ocean acidification.

Food Insecurity

  • Chinook and Chum Salmon: Western Alaska experienced a consecutive year of significantly low Chinook and chum salmon numbers, plummeting to 81% and 92% below the 30-year mean, respectively.
  • Reduced Size of Adult Salmon: The report highlights a concerning trend of diminishing adult salmon sizes, exacerbating the challenges faced by Alaskan fisheries.

Wildfires in Arctic Regions

  • Arctic Ice Sheet: The Arctic ice sheet is experiencing a concerning rate of melting.
  • Canadian Wildfire Crisis: Canada, with 40% of its landmass classified as Arctic and Northern, faced severe consequences as it grappled with one of its worst wildfire seasons on record.
  • Record-breaking Wildfires: The country endured an unprecedented wildfire season, surpassing 10 million acres burned in the Northwest Territories, according to The New York Times.
  • Contributing Factors: High temperatures, desiccated vegetation and soil, coupled with below-average rainfall, created optimal conditions for the widespread wildfires.
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