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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: July 2018

9 - Future Environments in the Polar Regions

Summary

Projections of future polar environments by 2050-2100 are described. The roles of greenhouse gases and four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) are discussed. Half of the 1985-2012 warming was anthropogenically-caused. Aerosols led to significant cooling. The Antarctic ozone hole will persist until the 2050s The Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in September before 2050 leading to increased shipping. Sea ice loss leads to less severe winter cold air outbreaks. Winter snowfall will increase over much of the northern hemisphere in the late 21st century. Near-surface permafrost will shrink considerably and thermokarst landscapes will expand. Extensive greening of the tundra has already occurred with positive and negative consequences. Few glaciers will remain in 2100 if warming is 4.8 °C and the Antarctic ice sheet can cause a 1m sea level rise. Impacts include Arctic coastal erosion. Arctic precipitation and runoff to the Arctic Ocean will increase. Arctic Observing Networks have been organized, the Year of Polar Prediction is underway and future Arctic research includes a planned icebreaker drift in the Arctic in 2019.

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