The expanding footprint of rapid Arctic change

Published by Stephanie Mayer on

Arctic land ice is melting, sea ice is decreasing, and permafrost is thawing. Changes in these Arctic elements are interconnected, and most interactions accelerate the rate of change. The changes affect infrastructure, economics, and cultures of people inside and outside of the Arctic, including in temperate and tropical regions, through sea level rise, worsening storm and hurricane impacts, and enhanced warming. Coastal communities worldwide are already experiencing more regular flooding, drinking water contamination, and coastal erosion. We describe and summarize the nature of change for Arctic permafrost, land ice, and sea ice, and its influences on lower latitudes, particularly the United States. We emphasize that impacts will worsen in the future unless individuals, businesses, communities, and policy makers proactively engage in mitigation and adaptation activities to reduce the effects of Arctic changes and safeguard people and society.