Navigation Links
Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change according to new report

Unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), a new report prepared by 253 scientists from 15 countries under the auspices of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council.

"An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever," says Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report.

From the iconic polar bear and elusive narwhal to the tiny Arctic flowers and lichens that paint the tundra in the summer months, the Arctic is home to a diversity of highly adapted animal, plant, fungal and microbial species. All told, there are more than 21,000 species.

Maintaining biodiversity in the Arctic is important for many reasons. For Arctic peoples, biodiversity is a vital part of their material and spiritual existence. Arctic fisheries and tourism have global importance and represent immense economic value. Millions of Arctic birds and mammals that migrate and connect the Arctic to virtually all parts of the globe are also at risk from climate change in the Arctic as well as from development and hunting in temperate and tropical areas. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems such as vast areas of lowland tundra, wetlands, mountains, extensive shallow ocean shelves, millennia-old ice shelves and huge seabird cliffs are characteristic to the Arctic. These are now at stake, according to the report.

"Climate change is by far the worst threat to Arctic biodiversity. Temperatures are expected to increase more in the Arctic compared to the global average, resulting in severe disruptions to Arctic biodiversity some of which are already visible," warns Meltofte.

A planetary increase of 2 C, the worldwide agreed upon acceptable limit of warming, is projected to result in vastly more heating in the Arctic with anticipated temperature increases of 2.8-7.8 C this century. Such dramatic changes will likely result in severe damage to Arctic biodiversity.

Climate change impacts are already visible in several parts of the Arctic. These include northward range expansions of many species, earlier snow melt, earlier sea ice break-up and melting permafrost together with development of new oceanic current patterns.

It is expected that climate change could shrink Arctic ecosystems on land, as northward moving changes are pressed against the boundary of the Arctic Ocean: the so called "Arctic squeeze". As a result, Arctic terrestrial ecosystems may disappear in many places, or only survive in alpine or island refuges.

Disappearing sea ice is affecting marine species, changing dynamics in the marine food web and productivities of the sea. Many unique species found only in the Arctic rely on this ice to hunt, rest, breed and/or escape predators.

Other key findings

  • Generally speaking, overharvest is no longer a primary threat, although pressures on some populations remain a serious problem.

  • A variety of contaminants have bioaccumulated in several Arctic predator species to levels that threaten the health and ability to reproduce of both animals and humans. However, it is not clear if this is affecting entire populations of species.

  • Arctic habitats are among the least anthropogenic disturbed on Earth, and huge tracts of almost pristine tundra, mountain, freshwater and marine habitats still exist.

  • Regionally, ocean bottom trawling, non-renewable resource development and other intensive forms of land use pose serious challenges to Arctic biodiversity.

  • Pollution from oil spills at sites of oil and gas development and from oil transport is a serious local level threat particularly in coastal and marine ecosystems.

  • Uptake of CO2 in sea water is more pronounced in the cold Arctic waters than elsewhere, and the resulting acidification of Arctic seas threaten calcifying organisms and maybe even fisheries.

  • Shipping and resource development corridors are rapidly expanding and may dramatically increase the rate of introduction of alien species.

  • There is an enormous deficit in our knowledge of species richness in many groups of organisms, and monitoring in the Arctic is lagging far behind that in other regions of the world.

  • The multitude of changes in Arctic biodiversity driven by climate and other anthropogenic stressors will have profound effects on the living conditions of peoples in the Arctic.


Contact: DSc. Hans Meltofte
Aarhus University

Related biology news :

1. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
2. Increase in Arctic shipping poses risk to marine mammals
3. Energy requirements make Antarctic fur seal pups vulnerable to climate change
4. Research on carbon-consuming life-forms in Antarctica published in JoVE
5. Buttercups alert farmers to first signs of subarctic fungus in the UK
6. Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits
7. New study by WHOI scientists provides baseline measurements of carbon in Arctic Ocean
8. Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on moon Europa
9. Divide the Antarctic to protect native species, propose experts
10. Study: Seeking Arctic methane has serious implications for Florida coastline
11. Ancient global warming allowed greening of Antarctica
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change according to new report
(Date:10/26/2015)... 2015  Delta ID Inc., a company focused on ... PC devices, announced its ActiveIRIS® technology powers the iris ... launched by NTT DOCOMO, INC in Japan ... smartphone to include iris recognition technology, after a very ... in May 2015, world,s first smartphone to have this ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... GOLETA, California , October 23, 2015 ... Instruments (SMI) announce a mobile plug and play integration ... interactive real-world tasks SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) ... established wearable solutions for eye tracking and physiological data ... with SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2w and ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... -- Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA ), a leading developer of human interface ... 30, 2015. --> --> ... percent over the comparable quarter last year to $470.0 million. Net ... or $0.62 per diluted share. --> ... fiscal 2016 grew 39 percent over the prior year period to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: MNK ), a ... closed the sale of its global contrast media and ... in a transaction valued at approximately $270 million. The ... total of approximately 1,000 employees spread across the globe, ... area. This entire workforce and the manufacturing ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... Accutest Research Laboratories, a leading independent ... (CRO), has formed a strategic partnership ... Temple Health for joint work on ... ) , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ANNAPOLIS, Md. , Nov. 25, 2015  PharmAthene, ... of Directors has adopted a stockholder rights plan (Rights ... its net operating loss carryforwards (NOLs) under Section 382 ... --> --> PharmAthene,s use of its ... an "ownership change" as defined in Section 382 of ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... HART ), a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants ... McGorry will present at the LD Micro "Main ... 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will be webcast live ... Management will also be available at the conference for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: