Arctic Answers

greenland village

The village of Ilulissat in western Greenland is surrounded by icebergs that have calved from the Jakobshavn Glacier. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)

About this project

The journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (AAAR) has partnered with SEARCH to produce Arctic Answers, two-page briefs that answer questions about Arctic environmental change. They are framed for decision makers, but will be of interest to anyone concerned about the environment.

Arctic Answers are written for a wide audience

Reviewed for scientific accuracy and accessibility to readers with broad backgrounds, each brief concisely conveys the current state of knowledge, and provides supporting information and further reading in a Knowledge Pyramid.

The Arctic Answers brief is the apex of the pyramid and is built upon layers of references of increasingly technical information: summaries, synthesis papers, and the building blocks of detailed basic research and technical academic studies.

This online collection began in October 2021, and will continue to grow as more Arctic Answers briefs are added.

Science Briefs not yet published in AAAR

Title Summary
Can extreme Arctic climate change be avoided with cost effective mitigation?

Because the Arctic is warming much faster than the global average, Arctic nations have a special interest to understand climate responses to hypothetical reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to know whether aggressive mitigation efforts now make good economic sense.

Climate change and the permafrost-carbon feedback

As permafrost thaws in a warming climate, once-frozen organic carbon is broken down by soil microbes, releasing carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. Release of these additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere accelerates climate change and incurs additional societal costs for mitigation and adaptation.

Consequences of rapid environmental Arctic change for people

O. Ahkinga, Native Village of Diomede | Investigation – Lived Experience & Observations – Validation …

How does land motion influence sea level rise?

Local and regional sea level rise depends not only on how much water is contained in the ocean, but also on the rise and fall of the land, including underneath the ocean. Understanding vertical land motion is critical for appropriately predicting and responding to sea level change.

How fast is sea level rising?

A direct and ubiquitous consequence of our warming climate is rising sea level. Increasing rates of warming have accelerated the rate of sea level rise and the frequency of coastal flooding.

How is climate change affecting subsistence fisheries in the high Arctic?

The Arctic is experiencing pronounced environmental changes with significant implications for Indigenous peoples who rely heavily on wild game, fish, and other resources.

How is diminishing Arctic sea ice influencing coastal communities?

Loss of sea ice, thawing permafrost, reduced snow cover, and rising sea level are reducing hunting and 7ishing opportunities and degrading infrastructure for rural Arctic communities.

How is diminishing sea ice influencing marine ecosystems?

Diminishing sea ice, changing snow patterns, and increasing water temperatures threaten organisms—from algae to mammals—adapted to the sea ice ecosystem.

How is land ice changing in the Arctic and what is the influence on sea level?

Changes in Arctic land ice area and volume directly influence sea level rise locally, regionally, and globally. Understanding where land ice is being lost and how quickly it is disappearing is key to projecting the rates of sea level rise around the globe.

How is permafrost degradation affecting ecosystem services?

Degrading permafrost is making life in Arctic communities more challenging because fishing and hunting, access to drinking water, and travel via trails and rivers (i.e., ecosystem services) are becoming less reliable or predictable.

How is permafrost degradation affecting infrastructure?

Degradation of permafrost—perennially frozen ground that often contains subsurface ice—makes it difficult to build and maintain infrastructure including roads, buildings, pipelines, and airports. As ground ice melts, soils shift and collapse making the ground unstable thus jeopardizing infrastructure at the surface.

How predictable are Arctic sea ice conditions?

Improved predictions of Arctic sea ice conditions are important to numerous stakeholders. Understanding opportunities to advance predictive capabilities, as well as inherent limitations, is necessary to develop optimal prediction products across different user communities, regions, and timeframes.

How will coastal communities be affected by climate change?

Rising sea level and the expected increases in the frequency and severity of strong storms make coastal areas and their residents among the most vulnerable to natural hazards from a changing climate.

How will the diminishing sea ice affect commercial fishing in the Bering Sea?

The Bering Sea supports one of the largest, most profitable food fisheries in the world. Commercial fisheries are the largest private-sector employer in Alaska. The extent, duration and timing of sea ice advance and retreat are changing dramatically in the warming Arctic, and this accelerated transformation affects food webs on which commercially important fisheries depend.

What do we know about the future of Arctic sea-ice loss?

The rapid loss of floating Arctic sea ice is striking in its impact on global climate.