The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Glaciers are melting, ice caps are disappearing, the permafrost is thawing, and land animals, fish and flora are migrating to new habitats. Geographer Mark C. Serreze recounts the decades of scientific detective work that reveal how this warming trend is not part of a natural cycle, but the result of human activity. In this fascinating and frightening read, he asserts that the North Pole serves as a warning system of what will happen to the lower latitudes.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
Since 1990, the physical characteristics of the Arctic have transformed dramatically as a result of climate change. The North Pole’s summer sea-ice cover is disappearing quickly and the winter cover retreating as well. The permafrost is beginning to thaw, and glaciers and ice caps are losing mass as atmospheric temperatures rise. Climate records indicate that warming in the Arctic is proceeding twice as fast as the rest of the world.
In the past few decades, scientists struggled to understand the mechanisms behind these changes. Were they natural cycles, incomplete records or increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? They discovered that the Arctic system is astoundingly complex: Warming temperatures and the resulting loss of sea ice seem to be the main drivers of Arctic changes, but many factors come into play, including alterations in cloud formation and increases in atmospheric water vapor. Even weather patterns in the lower latitudes and the motion of winds in the stratosphere produce a marked effect on Arctic...
Mark C. Serreze is professor of geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a fellow of its Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. He directs the National Snow and Ice Data Center.