Melting of Arctic permafrost leads to greenhouse gas emissions, says NOAA's 2019 Arctic Report Card
Warming air and water temperatures, eroding sea ice, and wildlife showing signs of stress — the Arctic Report Card for 2019 portrays a rapidly changing climate and ecosystem.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations' report, released Tuesday, outlines how arctic ecosystems and communities are at risk. Meanwhile, world leaders are at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid working on ways to approach the crisis.
Scientists noted that feared climate change acceleration may already be underway. The soil underneath Arctic permafrost contains about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere, per the report. As temperatures rise, this carbon is released into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gasses, creating a loop of climate change acceleration.
"We've turned this corner for Arctic carbon," Ted Schurr, a researcher at Northern Arizona University who was involved with the report card, told The Washington Post, and the amount of carbon emitted in the Arctic will continue to grow. This will make achieving carbon-cutting goals of the Paris Climate Agreement even more difficult.
Indigenous Elders in the Bering Sea region are among the first groups of people to experience hardships of climate change, as the Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the global average. The report states that climate change is threatening their "homes, schools, airports, and utilities."
"We fear for our young people," they said in the report. "We worry that they will grow without the same foods and places that we have known throughout our lives."
The Arctic report card was the 14th annual from the NOAA, and was developed by 81 scientists from 12 countries.