Dec 10, 2019

A warming Arctic may have global consequences

Children in Newtok, Alaska, Oct. 2019. Thawing permafrost and flooding have forced the community to move to Mertarvik. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Arctic's thawing permafrost could release an estimated 300 million to 600 million tons of net carbon into the atmosphere each year, according to NOAA's 2019 Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Consequences of ongoing changes in the Arctic's climate — accelerated by warming air temperatures and dwindling sea ice — will result in "altered weather patterns, increased greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels," the Washington Post reports.

  • Warming air temperatures are "driving changes in the Arctic environment that affect ecosystems and communities on a regional and global scale," the report reads.

Details: The Greenland Ice Sheet is contributing to global average sea-level rise, losing about 267 billion metric tons of ice each year.

  • Warming conditions in the Arctic promote the conversion of carbon stored in permafrost into greenhouse gases.
  • Arctic sea ice is shrinking in thickness, making it increasingly vulnerable to warming air and oceans.
  • May 2019 saw the fifth lowest North American Arctic snow cover in the 53 years since recording began, while June's snow cover was the third lowest.

Go deeper: Key science report shows "unprecedented" changes to oceans and frozen regions

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Extreme weather chokes off reindeer food supply in Swedish Arctic

Reindeer in a Swedish corral wait to be released onto winter pastures on Nov. 30. Photo: Malin Moberg/AP

Reindeer in Sweden's Arctic are hungry, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Climate change is altering weather patterns, choking off herds' food supply.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

Goldman Sachs moves away from financing coal and Arctic oil

A Mendeleev Prospect oil tanker. Photo: Alexander Ryumin/TASS via Getty Images

Goldman Sachs says it won't directly finance Arctic oil-and-gas exploration, new coal-fired power plants (unless they trap carbon), or new mines for coal used in electricity.

The big picture: Those are three big pieces of the banking giant's revised climate policies unveiled over the weekend.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019

Fiddling while the planet warms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The UN’s annual climate conference ended in failure yesterday, with big decisions on how to slow the relentless rise of global temperatures pushed off to 2020 and beyond.

Why it matters: World leaders gathering at global forums like the UN often frame climate change in existential terms. But their views of what remedies are necessary and fair tend to be colored by their own national interests.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019