Our Arctic snow and ice are at question. Scientists have known for a long time that as climate change started to heat up the Earth, its effects would be most pronounced in the Arctic. This has many reasons, but climate feedbacks are key. As the Arctic warms, snow and ice melt, and the surface absorbs more of the sun’s energy instead of reflecting it back into space. This makes it even warmer, which causes more melting, and so on.

Melting Arctic sends a message: Climate change is here in a big way from The Conversation

In fact and during the last time I was at Sundance Film Festival in 2010 I met Lester Brown and a woman named Coco from the UN. We talked about Climate Refugees from the Arctic melting.

This expectation has become a reality that I describe in my new book “Brave New Arctic.” It’s a visually compelling story: The effects of warming are evident in shrinking ice caps and glaciers and in Alaskan roads buckling as permafrost beneath them thaws.

Scientists on Arctic sea ice in the Chukchi Sea, surrounded by melt ponds, July 4, 2010. NASA/Kathryn Hansen
Scientists on Arctic sea ice in the Chukchi Sea, surrounded by melt ponds, July 4, 2010. NASA/Kathryn Hansen

But for many people the Arctic seems like a faraway place. So stories of what is happening there seem irrelevant to their lives. It can also be hard to accept that the globe is warming up while you are shoveling out from the latest snowstorm.

Since I have spent more than 35 years studying snow, ice and cold places, people often are surprised. Especially when I tell them I once was skeptical that human activities were playing a role in climate change. My book traces my own career as a climate scientist. Also, the evolving views of many scientists I have worked with.

When I first started working in the Arctic, scientists understood it as a region defined by its snow and ice. All with a varying but generally constant climate. In the 1990s, we realized that it was changing. However it took us years to figure out why.

Now scientists are trying to understand what the Arctic’s ongoing transformation means. Especially for the rest of the planet. Moreover whether the Arctic of old will ever be seen again.

For the entire engaging story by The Conversation, April 26, 2018 6.38am EDT by Mark Serreze

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