Dramatic Changes to the Arctic Suspected

A new study which has analysed 16 global climate models from 1950 to 2099 and compared them with a hundred years of observation data has found that a reorganisation of Arctic climates is anticipated to occur by the end of this century.

The study, which was published in the journal Climate Dynamics, is the first study of its kind to apply a specific climate classification system of climate changes throughout the Arctic by using both observations and projected climate models.

Alaska & Canada to Turn into Forests?

Alaska and Canada tundra may give way to trees, shrubs and plants more typical of southerly climates, needle-leaf and broadleaf forests will push northward into areas of Eastern Europe, northern Asia and Scandinavia, and Greenland’s ice-cover may retreat enough to leave new tundra in its wake.

In short, the study shows that the areas of the Arctic currently dominated by polar and sub-polar climates will decline and be replaced by more temperature climates and the environments that accompany such climates. These changes could affect a quarter to nearly half of the Arctic by the year 2099.

Forest Growth in Alaska & Canada Could Amplify Global Warming

“The expansion of forest may amplify global warming, because the newly forested areas can reduce the surface reflectivity, thereby further warming the Arctic,” Feng said. “The shrinkage of tundra and expansion of forest may also impact the habitat for wildlife and local residents.”

Also according to the study:

By the end of the century, the annual average surface temperature in Arctic regions is projected to increase by 5.6 to 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

The warming, however, is not evenly distributed across the Arctic. The strongest warming in the winter (by 13 degrees Fahrenheit) will occur along the Arctic coast regions, with moderate warming (by 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit) along the North Atlantic rim.

The projected redistributions of climate types differ regionally; in northern Europe and Alaska, the warming may cause more rapid expansion of temperate climate types than in other places.

Tundra in Alaska and northern Canada would be reduced and replaced by boreal forests and shrubs by 2059. Within another 40 years, the tundra would be restricted to the northern coast and islands of the Arctic Ocean.

The melting of snow and ice in Greenland following the warming will reduce the permanent ice cover, giving its territory up to tundra.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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