Arctic braces for 3-5C temperature rise

Even if the Paris Agreement goals are met, winter temperatures in the Arctic are set to rise 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050, finds a new report by UN Environment.

The outlook is bleak and dangerous for the Arctic. According to a new report by UN Environment, winter temperatures in the northern reaches of our planet are set to rise by 3-5C by 2050 and 5-9C by 2080 — even if the world were to cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Even if global emissions were to stop overnight, the Arctic would still see winter temperatures rise by 4-5C by 2100.

In addition, rapidly thawing permafrost threatens to accelerate climate change further by releasing some 1,672 billion metric tonnes of carbon currently locked into the frozen soils. The resulting warming will then lead to more thawing, further derailing efforts to keep global temperature rise to below 2C.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” Joyce Msuya, UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director, said in a press release. “We have the science; now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought.”

The scenarios laid out in the paper Global Linkages – A graphic look at the changing Arctic are devastating for the region. Arctic Indigenous Peoples already face increased food insecurity, and by 2050 some four million people will be threatened by thawing permafrost. Ocean acidification is also having a disproportionate impact on Arctic marine species, forcing Arctic corals, molluscs, sea urchins and plankton to use more energy to build their shells and skeletons.

Image credit: Christian Hoiberg via Flickr

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