Arctic

Arctic warming will accelerate climate change and impact global economy


Carbon released into the atmosphere by the increasing loss of Arctic permafrost, combined with higher solar absorption by the Earth's surface due to the melting of sea ice and land snow, will accelerate climate change—and have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the world economy.


Under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Paris Agreement target of global temperature rises being limited to 1.5C from pre-industrial levels, the extra impact drops to $25 trillion (4% of the total cost for this scenario).


The interdisciplinary research team hope their assessments will provide a better understanding of the socio-economic risks from climate change under different scenarios and help guide policy-makers towards prudent decisions on emissions reduction targets.


Researchers explored simulations of complex, state-of-the-art, physical models to quantify the strength of the permafrost carbon feedback (PCF), driven by the additional carbon released from thawing permafrost, and of the surface albedo feedback (SAF), driven by the extra solar energy absorbed by the Earth's surface as the white sea ice and land snow cover declines, exposing darker ocean and land.


"Arctic sea ice and land snow currently contribute around a third each to the global albedo feedback," said lead author Dmitry Yumashev, of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University.


For the purposes of the research, other major planetary feedbacks, such as those driven by changes in clouds and water vapour in response to warming, are assumed to remain constant, supported by the last two generations of climate models.






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