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More than 15 years after first recognizing that the Arctic “was careening toward a precarious new state,” marine and coastal sciences research professor Jennifer A. Francis summarizes the dramatic changes she and other scientists are seeing around Earth’s North Pole. She also describes the trickle-down effect those changes are having on the rest of the world, from droughts and floods to sea-level rise and altered ecosystems. This article is a must-read for planners, policy makers, industry representatives and anyone who will be affected by the changes and can help mitigate their adverse impacts.

About the Author

Jennifer A. Francis is a marine and coastal sciences research professor at Rutgers University. She is an expert on Arctic climate change.



The Arctic is changing faster than expected, with air temperature rising and ice melting at a record-breaking speed.

Air temperature is increasing. Once “permanent” ice – sea ice, glaciers and permafrost – is melting. Numerous records have been broken in recent years, including winter sea ice extent, sea ice volume, air temperature and water vapor. The difference between average temperature in the Arctic and farther south is decreasing. And these changes create conditions, such as replacing ice with less reflective liquid water, that cause the region to absorb even more heat.

By altering the movement of air and...

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