The Arctic has entered a new era

What will the future?  (Image steveguyer.)

What will the future? (Image steveguyer.)

The Arctic has entered a new era. Water and air warmer, less sea ice, land, more greens.

That is the main idea of the next annual "Arctic Consolidated Report" by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first thing that catches the eye — it is still reduced the area of summer sea ice. This season, she was second last in 32 years of satellite observations. Antirecord continues to hold in 2007. Experts stress that the new Arctic longer periods of open water should be considered the norm. In addition, the melting ice and rising levels of carbon dioxide make the Arctic Ocean less salty and more sour.

The drafters note that this is the year for the first time received a clear signal of ecosystem response to physical changes in the Arctic.

The less ice, the more sunlight falls on the water. This not only causes further melting, but also helps to increase productivity at the base of the marine food chain. This is particularly noticeable in the East Arctic, in the Kara Sea productivity increased by 70%, while in the East Siberian — 135%.

On species that are on the top of the food chain, what is happening is reflected differently: the loss of pack ice prevents the Chukchi Sea polar bears and walrus hunt. Reduced the number of seven of the nineteen subpopulations of polar bears, at least in two cases this is due to the reduction of sea ice. Also this summer, thousands of walruses stranded Alaska — the first time this season. Such events are of great risk to adults, not to mention the cubs, which may just trample in a stampede.

At the same time, some marine mammals, climate change is good. For example, the gray whale, sailing to the Arctic for fattening, will now be able to stay there longer.

Winners and losers are and in the plant world. Among the first — shrubs that are higher. Among the second — flora that does not have an extensive root system: mosses, lichens. They find themselves in the shadow of the first.

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