The Meltdown: Arctic Consequences

The Meltdown: Arctic Consequences
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According to the The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), “on September 16, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its minimum extent for the year of 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent in the satellite record since 1979 and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent.” The Arctic is thus melting at faster pace than expected. The video underneath is probably the best way to realize the extent of this phenomenon.

 As a result, the following things are likely to occur:

Extreme weather and Oceans rise will accelerate: The very high temperatures last summer in the US and the drought that resulted are the premises of the turbulence yet to come that will affect agriculture, households, infrastructures and insurance costs. We were basically thinking that these changes would be significant at a 50 years horizon but it’s probably not the case anymore. Note that increasing food prices may play a significant role in creating social troubles in many developed countries. As a reminder, the Arab spring that started in Tunisia, was largely due to the increase in food prices by end of 2010 that paved the way to the social explosion that led to a regime change in January 2011.

 

Examples of current vulnerabilities of freshwater resources and their management; in the background, a water stress map. Source: sunysuffolk.edu

Northern Passage: The arctic route will eventually end up being open all year long and the bordering countries, especially Russia, may use it as an alternative route to ship goods, minerals and gas to Asia, specifically China.

Oil / Gas drilling: with resources estimated as nearly as abundant as in Saudi Arabia, the Arctic is in the target list of all major oil / gas corporations. The all year long icy conditions and the extreme weather kept these players at distance but as climate changes, Arctic is becoming a viable option.

The Stratfor video underneath from 2010, highlights some of the challenges in exploiting the Arctic space but with the climate change, these barriers are progressively vanishing.

 Photos Credits: Ice Sheet By Michael Heilemann / FlickR