Hello, I am Dr. Piers Sellers here at NASA and I am going to talk about the top six ways that the changes in the Arctic impact us all. Melting glaciers and land ice raise sea level and that affects coastal communities around the world and increases flood risk everywhere. Melting snow and ice cover reduces the ability of the surface to reflect heat and light back into the atmosphere and that leads to accelerated global warming everywhere. Because the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on earth, some science suggests that this may actually perturb the root of the jet stream, which could lead to more extreme weather events in midlatitudes, where most people live. Changes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, which hold about 10 percent of the world’s fish catch, are shifting the populations of where fish live and this could affect a very important food source. Warmer, drier winters in the Arctic has led to an increase in wildfires, which release a whole lot of carbon into the atmosphere, feed the melting of permafrost and thus accelerates the climate change process.
The thawing of the permafrost — and that’s the frozen soil layer under the snow and ice — results in decomposition of the organic carbon and could release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the next century, and that, again, accelerates global warming. So if you rattle one part of the system, like the Arctic, you can be sure that you are going to see impacts elsewhere..