Climate Change

The Arctic is particularly sensitive to global warming and is undergoing some of the most rapid changes on the planet. Amongst the rapid changes being observed, air temperatures in the Arctic have been rising at almost twice the global average; Arctic sea ice extent and thickness has declined dramatically and the process is accelerating; and the surface of the Arctic Ocean is warming. On land, permafrost, which contains large stores of carbon, is warming and thawing at the margins of its distribution.

There are also global impacts - changes in the Arctic are currently and will affect the rest of the world into the future. Changes in the Arctic are, amongst others, altering atmospheric and oceanic circulation that affects weather patterns, raising the global sea level through the increased melting of ice sheets and glaciers; and increasing the emission of carbon dioxide and methane through thawing permafrost.

These changes raising important policy issues at the global, regional and local scales. In the Arctic, key policy issues centre on the prospects of retreating sea ice opening up the North-east and Northwest passages for commercial shipping, and increasing access to oil and gas - both of which raise issues of jurisdiction and of regulatory regimes in the Arctic marine environment.

At the local level, climate change is already a major concern in many Arctic communities. Most individual communities currently lack the capacity to cope effectively with stresses, such as damage to coastal infrastructure from thawing permafrost and increased storm surges, and the loss of access to subsistence resources. 

Access recent publications

The Arctic Resilience Interim Report 2013, led by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, considers how changes in climate, ecosystems, economics, and society interact.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
The Arctic Resilience Interim Report 2013, led by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, considers how changes in climate, ecosystems, economics, and society interact.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
This report, by a team of 121 scientists from around the globe, concludes that the Arctic region continues to warm, with less sea ice and greater green vegetation.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
This report presents the Commission’s recommendations, foremost of which is that governance in the Arctic marine environment should be sustained and strengthened by a new conservation and sustainable development plan using an ecosystem-based management approach.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
A summary of the provisional assessment of the Greenland Ice Sheet component of the Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) project, prepared for the UNFCCC COPXV meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
Activities in EU Member States — as most other countries — leave an environmental footprint in the Arctic. Addressing the root causes of Arctic changes requires a global response. Impacts resulting from climate change represent a challenge of paramount importance for the region at present and also for the future.
EU and the Arctic
Climate change
The EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment, an initiative of the European Commission, is a study which aims to improve the effectiveness of EU environmental policies with respect to the Arctic region.
EU and the Arctic
Climate change
This Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) 2009 report summarises recent observations of changing climate parameters.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change
Ice, snow and climate change are closely linked. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow investigates those linkages. It also presents information on the trends in ice and snow, the outlook for this century and beyond and the consequences to ecosystems and human well-being of these changes.
Assessment and Reports
Climate change

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