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Arctic warming amplifies climate change and its impacts

Smith, Adam J. P.; Smith, Doug M.; Cohen, Judah; Jones, Matthew W.

This ScienceBrief Review examines the evidence linking Arctic warming to the amplification of climate change impacts in Arctic, boreal and mid-latitude regions. It synthesises findings from more than 190 peer-reviewed scientific articles gathered using ScienceBrief. The evidence shows that the Arctic region has warmed at least twice as much as the global average, leading to a number of environmental consequences. The extent and thickness of sea-ice have decreased and rates of permafrost thaw have increased in recent decades. The impacts of rising mean annual temperatures have been exacerbated by an increase in heatwaves this century. These changes amplify climate change and its impacts. Permafrost thaw and wildfires are releasing greenhouse gases and amplifying climate change, while the loss of sea ice is reducing the amount of solar energy reflected by the Earth’s surface. There is ongoing debate about how changes in the Arctic energy balance influence patterns of extreme weather in the mid-latitudes.

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