Arctic Climate Change Science, Trends & Impacts

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the Earth as a whole. Evidence of this can be found in a shorter winter season and the melting of sea ice, snow, and glaciers. Arctic warming is caused by  increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as well as other anthropogenic pollutants such as black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane.

Swimming walrusesThe warming of the Arctic climate is rapidly altering ecosystems throughout the region, stressing arctic wildlife and pressuring arctic human communities to adapt.

Arctic warming has global consequences. Further Arctic warming could trigger climatic thresholds, making it more difficult to restore a stable climate. Arctic warming will accelerate global warming which could cause sea levels to rise, alter ocean currents, and cause the release of vast quantities of methane and carbon into the atmosphere. The earth’s geological record tells us that in the past the planet has moved rapidly from frigid to warmer conditions and that these changes were amplified at the poles and then rippled through the entire earth system.

Download the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment's Key Finding on the rapidly warming Arctic climate and the large projected changes (PDF)

View the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. View in-session workshop presentations from the Bonn climate change talks, June 2008