UNEP Year eBook 2014 Update - Rapid Change in the Arctic

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YEAR eBOOK 2014 UPDATE Rapid Change in the Arctic

United Nations Environment Programme


The View from the Top 1. Rapid Change in the Arctic

The UNEP Year Book 2013 reported unprecedented loss of summer sea ice in 2012 as a result of warming in the Arctic. At 3.4 million km 2 , the minimum sea ice extent that year was 18% below the previous record minimum in 2007. Besides loss of summer sea ice, Arctic warming threatens the region's biodiversity. Arctic warming also could also have far-reaching consequences for global ocean circulation and weather patterns, migratory species that visit the Arctic, and potential greenhouse gas emissions from the thawing of permafrost. Permafrost thawing and the loss of snow and ice on land both contribute to global sea level rise. 1. R APID C HANGE IN THE A RCTIC | 2014 UPDATE

"The Arctic is changing twice as fast in terms of warming as the rest of the world. What happens to migratory species in the Arctic will affect what happens in the overwintering grounds of those species, and what happens to the melting glaciers and permafrost thaw will affect sea level rise in the rest of the world.” Terry Callaghan, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The extent of Arctic sea ice has greatly decreased in the last three decades. Minimum sea ice extent normally occurs in September every year, after the summer melt and before the ice starts to refreeze. It has been recorded by satellite since 1979. © United States National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observatory.



Areas of the Greenland ice sheet where melting occurred on more than three days between 1 May and 30 September in the years shown (red). Areas with more annual accumulated days of melt are shown in darker red than those with fewer days. Areas where melting occurred on three days or less during the year are white. © NASA (2012)

Global climate change is emerging as the most important stressor for Arctic biodiversity. Rapidly changing ice conditions due to Arctic warming affect life on land and in the sea. In particular, iconic animals that live on the ice such as polar bears, walruses and seals are at risk. The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to ocean acidification, as colder waters can hold more carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) than warmer ones. Retreating sea ice offers new opportunities for resource exploitation, trade, and economic development. Use of northern shipping routes is already increasing. Mining and oil, gas and mineral exploitation are expanding, as are commercial fisheries. Such opportunities also present challenges for the region, including environmental risks and social concerns regarding its local and indigenous inhabitants.

Why does the Arctic matter for the rest of the world? © Trends in Arctic Biodiversity film – Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)/ GRID-Arendal


Rapid changes in the Arctic require urgent responses within the region and from the wider world. Since climate change dominates the current transformation of the Arctic environment, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is the most important action that needs to be taken. Building resilience and adapting to inevitable climate change is of great importance. In view of the potential for major environmental damage, careful consideration needs to be given to a precautionary approach to economic development. A precaut ionary approach requi res measures such as development moratoriums until full assessments have established risks to the environment and human systems – and until adequate management frameworks are in place. Because of the rapid pace of change in the fragile Arctic region, it is essential to develop strengthened systems for monitoring and for provision of early warnings. The leading scientific research being carried out in the Arctic, and successful inter-governmental cooperation on protecting the region’s environment, provide examples for the rest of the world. Read more about rapid change in the Arctic in the UNEP Year Book 2013 1. R APID C HANGE IN THE A RCTIC | 2014 UPDATE

Changes in sea ice affect marine ecosystems and livelihoods. © Trends in Arctic Biodiversity film – CAFF/GRID-Arendal

This is an External Link



Science and Shipping 2. Recent Developments in the Arctic


New assessments are highlighting the impact of climate change on Arctic marine and terrestrial environments. A comprehensive report on ocean acidification in the region, released by the Arctic Council, confirms that among the world’s oceans the Arctic Ocean is one of the most sensitive to ocean acidification, and that Arctic marine ecosystems are highly likely to undergo significant changes as a result. During the summer of 2013, the maximum area of surface melting on the Greenland ice sheet was 44%, compared to 97% in 2012. © NOAA Climate.gov/Thomas Mote, University of Georgia (click image for larger view)

In general, rapid warming in the Arctic is continuing. This affects marine and land ecosystems within the region, as well as people and livelihoods. Cooler temperatures across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and North Canada in the summer of 2013 helped to moderate the record loss of sea ice and melting of the Greenland ice sheet experienced the previous year. Nevertheless, the extent of summer sea ice was the sixth lowest since observations began in 1979. The Arctic Report Card 2013 provides a concise update on the latest science and trends in the Arctic across a number of indicators. © United States National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA)



Another Arct ic Counci l report , the Arct ic Biodiversity Assessment, confirms that climate change is the most important stressor for Arctic biodiversity and will exacerbate all other threats. I nc reased human ac t i v i t i es such as o i l exploration and shipping will place additional stress on the region’s biodiversity. Scientific understanding of black carbon as a global climate warming agent is advancing rapidly. There is also better understanding of its importance in Arctic warming. When black carbon is deposited on snow and ice, the soot-covered surface absorbs more sunlight, leading to surface warming. Owing to the large amount of snow and ice in the Arctic, this region is likely to be especially sensitive to black carbon. Black carbon emitted within the Arctic has an almost five times greater warming effect in the region. There are currently few sources of black carbon within the Arctic, but such sources are expected to grow with increased oil and gas production, shipping and other human activities. Investments and activities for the purpose of extracting oil and gas in the Arctic are growing. For example, interest in exploiting the Barents Sea region north of Norway and Russia was recently stimulated by the announcement of large, previously undiscovered reserves. In some other parts of the Arctic, however, drilling has been postponed or delayed due to safety concerns.

A short history of oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Arctic. © Agence France Presse (AFP) - This is an External Link

Introduction to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, the most comprehensive report on the status and trends of biodiversity in the Arctic to date. © Trends in Arctic biodiversity film – CAFF/GRID-Arendal



Flaring of gas produced by oil ext ract ion wi thin the Arct ic currently accounts for 42% of the region’s black carbon emissions.

Marine shipping in the Arctic is increasing. As of Sep t embe r 2013 , t he No r t he r n Sea Rou t e Administration had issued 495 permits to navigate and operate along this route – a nearly four-fold increase compared to 2012. However, most of the 2013 permits were for navigating only parts of the route within Russian waters, rather than the entire route. Interview with Lawson Brigham, an Arctic shipping expert, on connections between natural resources in the Arctic and the rest of the world through shipping. © University of the Arctic/ GRID-Arendal – ‘Snowy Owl Project’



Preparing for a Globalised Arctic 3. Adapting to Rapid Change

The Arctic Council working groups have made an essential contribution to understanding rapid change in the Arctic, in some cases spurring global action. Arctic scientific work as part of the Global Mercury Assessment has been widely recognised for its contribution to the new Minamata Convention on Mercury, which limits harmful mercury emissions. The Task Force on Short-Lived Climate Forcers has been active in developing the scientific agenda and recommendations for reducing black carbon and methane emissions in Arctic states. Moreover, Arctic states have been identifying areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance in light of the changing climate and multiple and growing marine uses – suggesting ways to protect these areas from the impacts of Arctic marine shipping. 3. A DAPTING TO R APID C HANGE | 2014 UPDATE

In 2013 the Arctic states, under the auspices of the Arctic Council, signed a new, legally binding Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. It provides a framework for co- operation in the event of an emergency, in order to improve procedures for combating oil spills in the Arctic. This is an important first step towards ensuring the safety of the Arctic environment and its inhabitants. It follows from the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, signed in 2011. Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden, announces the new oil spill response agreement at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, May 2013. © Arctic Council

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) explains recent developments in the Polar Code. © IMO This is an External Link



The Clean Air and Climate Coalition (CCAC) explained. Three founding partners of CCAC were Arctic states. © CCAC / UNEP

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is currently developing a draft International code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (the Polar Code), which would cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles. Russia has announced the creation of a national park, Beringia, in the remote Far Eastern Region of Chukotka. This new park will touch the United States maritime border in the Bering Strait. The creation of a new national park on the Russian side paves the way for a joint US-Russian nature reserve spanning the Strait.



Many Indigenous organisations are actively involved in monitoring rapid changes in the environment and are seeking ways to adapt to these changes. All the Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council, as well as many other indigenous organisations, run projects, ranging from strengthening indigenous participation in decision-making processes to documenting and enhancing use of traditional knowledge.

Connections between reindeer herders, traditional knowledge, and biodiversity conservation in the Arctic and Subarctic explained. Featured are two Association of World Reindeer Herders projects, EALLIN and Nomadic Herders. © Phillip Burgess/International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry

The European Union is engaged in a number of initiatives in the region, including establishing a new EU Arctic Information Centre (explained here). © International Polar Foundation



Further information about the Arctic 4. Sources and Websites


CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) (2013). Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: Status and Trends in Arctic Biodiversity. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group ( C A F F ) , A k u r e y r i , I c e l a n d . http://arcticbiodiversity.is Jeffries, M.O., Richter-Menge, J.A. and Overland, J.E. (eds.) (2013). Arctic Repor t Card: Update for 2013. Tracking recent environmental changes. www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard Sand, M., Berntsen, T.K., Seland, Ø. and Kristjánsson, J.E. (2013). Arctic su r f ace t empe r a t u re change t o emissions of black carbon within Arctic or mid-latitudes. Journal of Geophysical Research, 118, 14, 7788-7798. ht tp: / /on l i ne l i brar y.wi l ey.com/do i / 10.1002/jgrd.50613/abstract Screen, J.A., Simmonds, I. and Keay, K. ( 2011 ) . Dramat i c i nterannua l changes of perennial Arctic sea ice linked to abnormal summer storm act i v i t y. Jour na l of Geophys i ca l R e s e a r c h , 1 1 6 , 1 5 . h t t p : / / o n l i n e l i b r a r y . w i l e y . c o m / d o i / 10.1029/2011JD015847/abstract

Sharma, S., Ogren, J.A., Jefferson, A., Eleftheriadis, K., Chan, E., Quinn, P.K. and Burkhart, J.K. (2013). Black Carbon in the Arct ic. In: Arct ic Repor t Card: Update for 2013. www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard Stohl , A., Kl imont, Z., Eckhardt, S., Kupiainen, K., Shevchenko, V.P., Kope i k i n , V.M. and Nov i ga t sky, A.N. (2013). Black carbon in the Arctic: the under-estimated role of gas flaring and residential combustion engines. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, 8833-8855. www.atmos- c h em - p h y s . n e t / 1 3 / 8 8 3 3 / 2 0 1 3 / acp-13-8833-2013.html UNEP (2013). The View from the Top: Searching for responses to a rapidly changing Arctic. In: UNEP Year Book 2013: Emerging Issues in our Global Environment. UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment, Nairobi, Kenya . www.unep.org/ yearbook/ 2013/pdf/View_from_the_top_new.pdf

All external links accessed April 4, 2014 Reports and Articles AMA P ( A r c t i c Mo n i t o r i n g a n d Assessment Programme) (2013). AMAP Assessment 2013: Arct ic Ocean Acidification. Oslo, Norway. www.amap.no/documents/doc/amap-arctic- ocean-acidification-assessment-summary- for-policy-makers/808 AMAP/CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna)/SDWG (Sustainable Development Working Group) (2013). Identification of Arctic marine areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance: Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) IIc. Oslo, Norway. www. ama p . n o / d o c ume n t s / d o c / Identification-of-Arctic-marine-areas-of- heightened-ecological-and-cul tural- significance-Arctic-Marine-Shipping- Assessment-AMSA-IIc/869 Arctic Centre, University of Lapland (2013). Arctic Indigenous Peoples. www. a r c t i ccen t r e . o r g / I nEng l i sh / SCIENCE-COMMUNICATIONS/Arctic- region/Arctic-Indigenous-Peoples



Wor l d Economi c For um ( 2014 ) . Demystifying the Arctic. Authored by the Members of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Arctic. Davos-Klosters, Switzerland 2 2 - 2 5 J a n u a r y 2 0 1 4 . h t t p : / / www3.weforum.org/docs/GAC/2014/ WEF_GAC_Arctic_DemystifyingArtic_R eport_2014.pdf Videos and Podcasts S t a t u s a n d Tr e n d s o f A r c t i c Biodiversity. © CAFF/GRID-Arendal w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=ydGhSUKSGiI Arctic Sea Ice Extent, 1979-2012: From NSIDC. © National Snow and I c e Da t a Ce n t e r, NASA E a r t h O b s e r v a t o r y w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=AztEry44A9A Arctic Report Card 2013. © United States Nat ional Atmospher ic and Ocean i c Admi n i s t r a t i on (NOAA ) w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=fPAc5D3Tow0

Arctic oil and gas reserves. © Agence France-Presse (AFP) www.youtube.com/ watch?v=0KqOFMVDmsw Webcast of Kiruna Ministerial Meeting, 15 M a y 2 0 1 3 . © A r c t i c C o u n c i l www.arctic-council.org/index.php/en/ events/meet i ngs-overv i ew/k i runa- ministerial-2013 Arctic Futures 2013: Q & A with Adam Stepien. © International Polar Foundation http://vimeo.com/79492629 Meet the CCAC: Clean Air Climate C o a l i t i o n . © C C A C / U N E P w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=5jIgy94YFo0 IMO Podcast: Sustainable Shipping in Polar Waters. © International Maritime Organi zat ion ( IMO) www. imo.org/ MediaCentre/Multimedia/AudioPodcast/ Pages/Default.aspx Keepers of the Land: Reindeer Herders, Biodiversity and Knowledge in the Arctic. © Phillip Burgess/International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry www.youtube.com/ w a t c h ? v=jyUUsyDPlUU&list=UUDYkGFCbHlPog mBKaS9Pd6g&feature=c4-overview



GRID-Arendal Graphics Library for the Arctic region www.grida.no/graphicslib/region/geoarctic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/ International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) www.iasc.info Ma p p i n g t h e C h a n g i n g A r c t i c Landscape ArkGIS tool www.arkgis.org National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), United States www.nsidc.org Snowy Owl Talks (GRID-Arendal) www.grida.no/polar/activities/5671.aspx Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) www.arcticobserving.org / University of the Arctic www.uarctic.org

Selected websites Arctic Council www.arctic-council.org

Photos and Graphics: Cover page:

Iceberg, Illulissat Icefjord. © Lawrence Hislop / GRID-Arendal www.grida.no/ pho t o l i b / de t a i l / i cebe r g - i l u l i s sa t - icefjord_1328 Chapter 1: Glacier mouth, Krossfjorden, Svalbard, Norway. © Peter Prokosch / GRID- Arendal www.grida.no/photolib/detail/ g l a c i e r - m o u t h - k r o s s f j o r d e n - svalbard_e178 Polar bear looking for whale cadaver under water, Svalbard, Norway. © Peter Prokosch / GRID-Arenda l www.gr ida.no/photol ib/detai l /polar- bear-looking-for-whale-cadaver-under- water-svalbard_3da1 Kongsfjord, Spitsbergen, Norway. © Peter Prokosch / GRID-Arenda l www. g r i d a . n o / p h o t o l i b / d e t a i l / kongsfjord-spitzbergen_01aa

Arctic Governance Project www.arcticgovernance.org Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) www.amap.no Arctic Portal www.arcticportal.org Arctic Report Card: Update for 2013 www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/ Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians (CPAR) www.arcticparl.org Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF)

www.caff.is EducaPoles www.educapoles.org



Large reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus ) during herding, Finnmark, Norway. © Lawrence Hislop / GRID-Arendal www.gr ida.no/photol ib/detai l / large- reindeer-(rangi fer-tarandus)-dur ing- herding-finnmark-norway_8896 Chapter 2: Greenland surface melt: 2012 vs. 2013. © NOAA Climate.gov/Thomas Mote, University of Georgia www.climate.gov/ news-features/featured-images/2013- a r c t i c - r epo r t - ca rd - su r f ace -me l t - greenland-ice-sheet-back-near Sea ice north of Svalbard, Norway. © P e t e r P r o k o s c h / GR I D - A r e n d a l www.grida.no/photolib/detail/sea-ice- north-of-svalbard_1940 Dog sled team at rest on sea ice. © L aw r e n c e H i s l op / GR I D - A r e nd a l www.grida.no/photolib/detail/dog-sled- team-at-rest-on-sea-ice_2371 Prudhoe Bay oil field, Alaska 1993. © P e t e r P r o k o s c h / GR I D - A r e n d a l www.grida.no/photolib/detail/prudhoe- bay-oil-field-alaska-1993_fbf5

Chapter 3: Tourist cruise ship, Svalbard, Norway. © B j ö r n A l f t h a n / G R I D - A r e n d a l www.grida.no/photolib/detail/tourist- cruise-ship-svalbard_91d7 Port of Murmansk, Russia. © Peter P r o k o s c h / G R I D - A r e n d a l www.grida.no/photolib/detail/port-of- murmansk-russia_49f8 Walrus ( Odobenus rosmarus ), Svalbard, Norway. © Peter Prokosch/GRID- Arendal www.grida.no/photolib/detail/ w a l r u s - ( o d o b e n u s - r o s m a r u s ) - svalbard_b5ee Uummanaq Village. © Lawrence Hislop/ GRID-Arendal www.grida.no/photolib/ detail/uummannaq-village_d9a5 Chapter 4: Wet Tundra, northern Yamal, Arctic Russia. © Peter Prokosch/GRID-Arendal www.gr ida.no/photol ib/detai l /wet - tundra-at -nor thern-yamal - russ ian- arctic_7319



© 2014 United Nations Environment Programme UNEP Year eBook 2014 Update – Rapid Change in the Arctic

ISBN: 978-92-8073-381-5 Job Number: DEW/1793/NA Disclaimer & Acknowledgments

This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or nonprofit services without special permission from the copyright holder, provided acknowledgement of the source is made. UNEP would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication that uses this publication as a source. No use of this publication may be made for resale or any other commercial purpose whatsoever without prior permission in writing from the United Nations Environment Programme. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, DCPI, UNEP, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, 00100, Kenya. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory or city or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. For general guidance on matters relating to the use of maps in publications please go to: http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/english/htmain.htm Mention of a commercial company or product in this publication does not imply endorsement by the United Nations Environment Programme. The use of information from this publication concerning proprietary products for publicity or advertising is not permitted. © Maps, photos, and illustrations as specified. All external links accessed April 4, 2014 Photo credit for cover: Lawrence Hislop/GRID-Arendal Production of eBook

Production Team Björn Alfthan (GRID-Arendal) Rob Barnes (GRID-Arendal) Tessa Goverse (UNEP) Lawrence Hislop (GRID-Arendal) Judith Maréchal (GRID-Arendal)

Reviewers Robert Correll (University of Tromsø) Markku Heikkilä (University of Lapland) Svein D. Mathiesen (UArctic EALÁT Institute) Trang Nguyen (UNEP) Peter Prokosch (GRID-Arendal) Audrey Ringler (UNEP) Jon Samseth (SINTEF Materials and Chemistry) Adam Stepien (University of Lapland)

GRID-Arendal P.O. Box 183 N-4802 Arendal, Norway Tel: +47 47 64 45 55 Fax: +47 37 03 50 50 E-mail: grid@grida.no Web: www.grida.no

UNEP YEAR eBOOK 2014 UPDATE Rapid Change in the Arctic

United Nations Environment Programme

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