Arctic spotlights socio-economic cost of climate change
The effects of climate change are most apparent in the Arctic where sea ice loss is having far-reaching socio-economic consequences. EU-funded research brought together an international team of experts to advance understanding of the region's transformation and its potential global impact.
© river34 #128455870, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Scientists and indigenous communities around the Arctic have been warning for many years now of ongoing environmental changes in the region. Temperatures there are rising at more than double the worldwide average rate, causing rapid loss of sea ice along with shifts in atmospheric and oceanic conditions. These changes are setting off complex chain reactions with far-reaching consequences.
The EU-funded ICE-ARC project spent four years attempting to better understand the changes taking place in the Arctic and to predict, anticipate and put an economic value on their global impact.
ICE-ARC brought together a multidisciplinary team of experts from 12 countries actively involved in Arctic research. It produced a new model PAGE-ICE to help shape EU and international policymaking surrounding the socio-economic cost of Arctic change and associated climate issues.
The main message is that the Arctic may be remote but the changes that are happening there will affect us all, says ICE-ARC project coordinator Jeremy Wilkinson from the British Antarctic Survey in the UK. Our detailed assessments reveal that if we continue with emissions as we are now, it is very likely that we will see our first seasonally ice-free Arctic before 2050. The good news is that it is not too late to act; if we stick to the Paris Agreement targets then substantial climate-induced economic losses will be significantly reduced and the Arctic can retain summer sea ice. This highlights the urgency of reducing our carbon emissions.
ICE-ARC has contributed to our understanding of, and ability to predict, Arctic marine change and improved the scientific baseline for EU and international policies on the protection of the region at a time of increased socio-economic pressure and the need for sustainable development.
Complex issues such as Arctic transformation are best addressed through large, integrated projects like ICE-ARC, according to Wilkinson.
We have to work across academic disciplines and sectors. Only then can we get a holistic view of Arctic change and develop effective and sustainable responses, he says.
ICE-ARC work is being followed up in a new grouping of EU-funded projects the EU Arctic Cluster. This provides a mechanism for disseminating results of projects such as ICE-ARC after they end.
The project findings have been summarised in its highlights brochure.