“Sea-ice extents are declining for all months, but as assessed over the period of satellite observations (1979 to present), the extent at the end of the melt season in September is dropping at the remarkable rate of 13 percent per decade (relative to the average September extent from 1981 to 2010). Permafrost is also warming and, in some areas, thawing. Areas of treeless, windswept tundra are being taken over by shrubs. And the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at an accelerating rate, contributing to rising sea levels. But through all of my time studying the Arctic, never have I seen anything like the events of the last year.”
See Crazy times in the ArcticTrump extols the virtues of “extreme vetting” but extremes are rarely of any benefit. There is too much collateral damage. The Arctic is a major influence on the weather/climate where I live and the weather in the Arctic is beyond extreme. We had one day with anything like normal cold this winter despite lots of northerly winds. That’s just not right. So much depends on cold winters here: plants like trees need dormant periods to organize for new growth and to germinate seeds, and animals need that burst of growth in the spring to feed their young. Having warmer and shorter winters upsets them all. As an old guy, I don’t really like cold much any more but that’s less relevant than how Nature is doing. I depend on all those plants and animals more than my heating bill accounts.
One of the animals most stressed by the rapid large changes in the Arctic is the polar bear, Ursus maritimus. It’s main food-source are seals which it can skillfully hunt from sea ice. With less area and time for sea ice, the polar bear fasts more and is in worse shape at the end of summer to hunt and raise young in the winter. This is good news for seals but bad news for the fish the seals eat and for the polar bears. 17 years ago when I first lived amongst the polar bears it was already evident that the bears further north were in much better shape and grew much larger than the ones further south. Now the differences are huge.
In the Arctic, there are few if any trees. One of the few shrubs I found in my day were willows that managed to grow in sheltered spots near water. That willow is spreading like weeds is good for ptarmigan and rabbits, I suppose, and probably for Inuit but all the other changes offset that slight benefit. Inuit, too, hunt seals from the ice…
Here, I’m already able to grow USDA Zone 4 plants when Zone 3 is what is shown on the maps. This will change all our forests but the change is happening much faster than the forests can adapt. The result is turmoil rather than cycles of life. There are bound to be winners and losers. At the moment, I feel like I am winning but my children are losing. They may never again experience the weather I did as a child.