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Ice Melt

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Attendees of the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk, Greenland, received sobering news about temperature rises in the region at the release of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), a working group of the Arctic Council. The report, which studies the impact of climate change on snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA), took place on May 12 after a May 6 conference brought together more than 400 scientists and researchers from all around the globe, according to the website Science Daily.

All have similar warnings: The reports were the results of a “multi-year study that included contributions from scientists and indigenous groups from all of the Arctic States and additional expertise from non-Arctic communities as well," according to the U.S. State Department.

The state department said that previous reports had underestimated the rates of change in sea ice; the Arctic Ocean could be all but ice-free every summer in a mere 30 to 40 years; resulting changes in Arctic ecosystems could cause the loss of entire habitats, which “has consequences for people who depend on Arctic ecosystems to supplement their livelihoods,” the state department said.

In addition, it will be a vicious cycle: the darker-colored, exposed ground absorbs more energy from the sun than the blinding white ice does. “It could also turn the Arctic into a net source of carbon dioxide and methane and change large-scale ocean currents,” the state department release said. “The combined outcome of these effects is not yet known.”

The conference was organized by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) and the universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen. About 400 scientists from 20 countries presented their data.

Ultimately, there is nothing but uncertainty about how quickly the Arctic will change and what impact that will have.

"The order of the day in the Arctic right now is change. But we shouldn't expect that those changes will be linear in the sense of a little bit each day. We're going to see dramatic changes. If the ice in the Arctic melts it is going to lead to water level problems on a global scale that we all will feel the consequences of," said Associate Dean Katherine Richardson in an Arctic Council release.

The Nunatsiaq News has been covering the conference extensively.