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Climate Change Impact on the Arctic Economy

Abstract

The Arctic is intimately coupled to the global climate through its impacts on atmospheric and oceanic circulation, including via changes in the sea ice cover. Changes in the Arctic trigger concurrent processes that can have an impact also far beyond the Arctic region itself, e.g. impact on the East Asian Summer Monsoon System (Guo et al. 2014). Future changes in the Arctic may alter our understanding of many currently-understood weather and climate processes, see Chap. 10 in this book, with significant impacts on lives and livelihoods, not just in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, but also in large areas around the Earth. In Europe and Asia there is a growing concern in understanding how polar change will impact lower latitude climate and the socio-economy. Consequently, a better and multidisciplinary understanding of Arctic processes, mutual feedbacks and their predictability is needed. This can be achieved through enhancing the operational capacity for monitoring of the polar regions, including enhanced observation infrastructures within the polar regions, new advanced technologies to carry out measurements in this harsh and cold environment, and the establishment of sustainable comprehensive environmental knowledge, information and databases. Both observational records and the results of global climate modeling justify that the Arctic region is the area of Earth most sensitive to the increase of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, see Chaps. 3, 4, and 10 in this book. Therefore, climate change in the Arctic, particularly the reduction of sea ice and the increase in surface air temperature, can serve as important indicators of global warming. Changing sea ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean may have a substantial impact on the regional environment, including the marine ecosystem, and the economic activities in the Arctic (Glomsrød et al. 2017) both on land and in the ocean. The IPCC AR5 (IPCC 2014) conclude (in accordance with the adopted gradation of assessment of likelihood of outcomes and results, using expert judgement) that “…in the Arctic region the on-going change will very likely cause serious social and economic consequences” (Anisimov et al. 2007). In view of pronounced regional differences in natural and socioeconomic conditions, the projected impact on the economy (either positive or negative) will substantially differ in various parts of the Arctic region. First and foremost, the economic activities in the Arctic will be affected by seasonal shrinkage of the sea ice extent and the overall decreasing thickness and volume of the sea ice. The present chapter provides a brief overview of the projected climate change impact on several key economic sectors in the Arctic: marine transportation, offshore oil and gas industry, and fisheries.
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