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How global warming transformed the Arctic

A recent voyage to the Arctic sheds light on the troubling effects of climate change

PHOTO: CSIS

Earlier this year, NASA released data showing that July 2017 was one of the hottest months ever recorded in 137 years.

As temperatures fluctuate all over the world, the effects of global warming has greatly changed the environment, even more so for one of the coldest places on Earth – the Arctic.

VOYAGE TO THE ARCTIC

During the months of July and August, a group of scientists and journalists travelled to the Arctic on a research voyage.

Besides charting the changes in landscape and ice, behaviours of animals coping with the evolving weather were observed as well: large whales swimming close to the surface, soaking up the sun in preparation for the freezing season; a polar bear feasting on a seal carcass, no doubt bulking up for the months of hibernation that was to come.

PHOTO: AP

And with the weather warming up for longer periods of time, the chilly sea ice of the Arctic continued to shrink.

The retreating ice was moving northwards, and while some polar bears migrated with the ice, others ventured south, where interactions with humans – which can be dangerous and confrontational for the bears – were more likely to happen.

Other species of Arctic inhabitants, such as the red king crab – a profitable catch for fishermen – were fighting their own battles as well.

As levels of carbon dioxide rise, oceans are becoming more acidic, thereby causing the crabs to grow and repopulate slower.

PHOTO: Thought Co

Algae found on the underside of the ice bed were disappearing as well. Should they vanish, planktons that feed on them will dwindle in numbers as well, thereby affecting predators such as whales, fish and birds.

THE FIGHT FOR OUR PLANET

While such scathing information may alarm most, the preservation of our environment has seen several roadblocks throughout the year.

With instances such as the White House removing their climate change page on its official website and the perpetual struggle of the Great Barrier Reef’s preservation in Australia, it is easy to see that the fight for the conservation of our planet will be a relentless and ongoing one.

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