The Arctic is being affected by climate change faster than predicted, leading to fears that it could be reaching “tipping point.”

The World Wildlife Fund says a new study has found change is occurring in all arctic systems, having an impact on the atmosphere and oceans as well as certain species and eco-sytems.

Researchers say the melting of sea ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet has been severely accelerated, prompting scientists to discuss whether they may be close to their “tipping point” (the point at which climate change causes sudden and possibly irreversible damage to  natural systems.)

A report in 2005 warned that climate change might surprise us and the new study has confirmed that some changes are occurring faster than expected – with “implications that spill well beyond Arctic”, according to the WWF.

A spokesman said: “The magnitude of the physical and ecological changes in the Arctic creates an unprecedented challenge for governments, the corporate sector, community leaders and conservationists to create the conditions under which arctic natural systems have the best chance to adapt.”

Experts say we need to reduce the vulnerability of the Arctic’s social and environmental systems by both reducing threats from human activity and building ecosystem resilience — the ability of ecosystems to remain stable when under a lot of pressure.

They have warned that although it’s too late for “business as usual” – it’s still not too late to make a difference if action is taken quickly.

A report last year suggested that if the entire Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt, sea levels would rise by almost 24 feet, making its status a global concern.

And while it is impossible to accurately predict how much of the ice sheet will melt, and over what timescale, the new report shows there has been a far greater loss of ice mass in the past few years, than those predicted by scientific models.

The WWF says we need to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to levels that will avoid the continued warming of the Arctic and the resulting disruption of the global climate system.



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