Read about three significant new reports from AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme): a new 2017 update to "Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic"; three regional reports from the project Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic; and a report on chemicals of emerging Arctic concern.
Last week's international Arctic science conference "Bringing Knowledge to Action," hosted by Working Group AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) in Reston, Virginia, featured the release of several major AMAP reports, as well as panels and discussions focused on the work of several other Arctic Council Working Groups. The AMAP reports - in particular, a new report on the Arctic cryosphere - garnered media attention around the world. Links to the newly-released documents are below. Explore more of AMAP's work at amap.no, and follow AMAP on Twitter (@AMAP_Arctic) and Facebook.
Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic
Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are driving widespread changes in the Arctic’s sensitive climate, hydrological, and ecological systems. Since 2011, downward trends have continued in sea ice thickness and extent, land ice volume, and spring snow cover extent and duration, while near-surface permafrost has continued to warm. With each additional year of data, it becomes increasingly clear that the Arctic as we know it is being replaced by a warmer, wetter, and more variable environment. This transformation has profound implications for people, resources, and ecosystems worldwide. While SWIPA 2017 includes many important new findings, three points in particular deserve special emphasis:
The Arctic Ocean could be largely free of sea ice in summer as early as the late 2030s, only two decades from now.
The recent recognition of additional melt processes affecting Arctic and Antarctic glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets suggests that low-end projections of global sea-level rise made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are underestimated.
Changes in the Arctic may be affecting weather in mid-latitudes, even influencing the Southeast Asian monsoon.
Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA)
These three overview reports focus on the diverse challenges that Arctic residents have experienced and the adaptations that they have begun to plan and implement in response to rapid changes in climate, landscape, wildlife, and social and economic systems that have occurred in recent decades and are expected in future. It considers the environmental and socio-economic changes to which inhabitants in the area are (and will be) adapting, and it provides a number of observations intended to help inform decision-makers about how they might help their communities adapt to future changes.
There are three regional reports now available.
- Barents region
- Baffin Bay / Davis Strait region
- Bering / Beaufort / Chukchi region
Chemicals of Emerging Arctic Concern
Tens of thousands of chemicals are presently on the market, and new substances continue to enter commerce each year. Many of the chemicals currently registered for use have characteristics similar to legacy pollutants, including a potential to reach the Arctic; however, most are not subject to international (global) regulation. Although international conventions, such as the Stockholm Convention, continue to add new chemicals of concern to the list subject to restrictions, their scope is limited. This, together with the sheer number of chemicals that are in everyday use, may constrain their effectiveness in addressing all emerging Arctic pollutants. Improved analytical technologies, research and screening programmes continue to reveal the presence of chemicals that have previously gone unnoticed, or were not expected to be present in the Arctic. Although newly detected in the Arctic, these so-called ‘chemicals of emerging concern’ have often been in use and present in the environment for years, even decades. Chemicals found in the Arctic may originate from local sources within the region or come from distant locations. The detection of a new substance in the Arctic that has no local sources is particularly important, as it provides evidence of the chemical’s potential to disperse globally. This policy summary refers to the most recent AMAP assessment which looks at a wide range of chemicals newly and recently detected in Arctic ecosystems.
Resources and references (Click any link below)
Arctic Council backgrounder
United States Chairmanship information
Images for media use
The Arctic Council on Facebook
The Arctic Council on Twitter
The Arctic Council Working Groups: ACAP, AMAP, CAFF, EPPR, PAME and SDWG.