Changing Polar Landscapes

Significant changes will take place in the Earth’s polar regions due to increased temperatures both in the ocean and the atmosphere. These changes in the Arctic and the Antarctic include the melting of polar ice caps, the accelerated loss of sea ice, ocean acidification, threats to biodiversity and species extinction, and even the potential for altered political landscapes. As once-permanent sea ice melts (some estimates place a total disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice by 2030-2040), new trade and shipping routes will open up alongside new regions which governments and corporations will explore in pursuit of natural resources such as oil and gas. Quarrels over the rights to these resources could result in flared tensions between countries or even spark outright conflict, proving that climate change is as much a security issue as it is an environmental one.

See also: Tipping Points

Further Resources
National Snow and Ice Data Center (USA)
Arctic Report Card 2009 (USA)
The Catlin Arctic Survey 2010
Climate of Conflict (International Relations and Security Network)

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