Extensive climate change is now affecting every form of life in the Arctic, according to a major new assessment by international polar scientists.
In the past four years, air temperatures have increased, sea ice has
declined sharply, surface waters in the Arctic ocean have warmed and
permafrost is in some areas rapidly thawing.
In addition, says the report released today at a Norwegian government seminar, plants and trees are growing more vigorously, snow cover is decreasing 1-2% a year and glaciers are shrinking.
Scientists from Norway, Canada, Russia and the US contributed to the Arctic monitoring and assessment programme (Amap) study, which says new factors such as "black carbon" - soot -
ozone and methane may now be contributing to global and arctic warming as much as carbon dioxide.
"Black carbon and ozone in particular have a strong seasonal pattern that makes their impacts particularly important in the Arctic," it says.