Here’s how the Arctic will look by the end of this century

March 4th, 2011 - 3:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 4 (ANI): A new study has estimated climate change’s impact on Arctic regions by 2099.

A team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln and South Korean climatologists analyzed 16 global climate models from 1950 to 2099 and combined it with more than 100 years of observational data to evaluate what climate change might mean to the Arctic’s sensitive ecosystems by the dawn of the 22nd century.

Based on the climate projections, the new study has shown that the areas of the Arctic now dominated by polar and sub-polar climate types will decline and will be replaced by more temperate climates-changes that could affect a quarter to nearly half of the Arctic, depending on future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, by the year 2099.

Changes to Arctic vegetation will naturally follow shifts in the region’s climates: Tundra coverage would shrink by 33 to 44 percent by the end of the century, while temperate climate types that support coniferous forests and needle-leaf trees would push northward into the breach, showed the study.

“The expansion of forest may amplify global warming, because the newly forested areas can reduce the surface reflectivity, thereby further warming the Arctic. The shrinkage of tundra and expansion of forest may also impact the habitat for wildlife and local residents,” said Song Feng, research assistant professor in UNL’s School of Natural Resources and the study’s lead author.

According to the study, by the end of the century, the annual average surface temperature in Arctic regions is projected to increase by 5.6 to 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

The projected redistributions of climate types differ regionally; in northern Europe and Alaska, the warming may cause more rapid expansion of temperate climate types than in other places, suggested the study.

Tundra in Alaska and northern Canada would be reduced and replaced by boreal forests and shrubs by 2059. Within another 40 years, the tundra would be restricted to the northern coast and islands of the Arctic Ocean.
The melting of snow and ice in Greenland following the warming will reduce the permanent ice cover, giving its territory up to tundra, the study has predicted.

The findings have been published in the scientific journal Climate Dynamics. (ANI)

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