"Arctic Melting Fast; May Swamp U.S. Coasts by 2099"
This sounds like a headline from a tabloid–but it’s not. The results of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment were released yesterday. The prognosis is not great:
The study concluded that in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia, average temperatures have increased as much as 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) in the past 50 years, nearly twice the global average. Temperatures are projected to rise 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius) over the next hundred years.
What this means is that the ice is going to melt and melt quickly. It already is. So what’s a little water? Well, the consequences, according to the study, are rather drastic:
• Low-lying coastal areas in Florida and Louisiana could be flooded by the sea. A 1.5 feet (50-centimeter) rise in sea level could cause the coastline to move 150 feet (45 meters) inland, resulting in substantial economic, social, and environmental impact in low-lying areas.
• The health and food security of some indigenous peoples would be threatened, challenging the survival of some cultures.
• Should the Arctic become ice-free in summer, it is likely that polar bears and some seal species would become extinct.
• The melting of so much ice, and the resulting addition of so much fresh water to the ocean, could impact the circulation of currents and affect regional climate.