The report says the effects of warming may be heightened by other factors, including overfishing, rising populations, rising levels of ultraviolet radiation from the depleted ozone layer a condition at both poles. Prompt efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions could slow the pace of change, allowing communities and wildlife to adapt, the report says.
But it also stresses that further warming and melting are unavoidable, given the century-long buildup of the gases, mainly carbon dioxide. Several of the Europeans who provided parts of the report said they had done so because the Bush administration had delayed publication until after the presidential election, partly because of the political contentiousness of global warming.
Big Arctic Perils Seen in Warming, Survey Finds
View all New York Times newsletters. But Gunnar Palsson of Iceland, chairman of the Arctic Council, the international body that commissioned the study, said yesterday that there was "no truth to the contention that any of the member states of the Arctic Council pushed the release of the report back into November.
Palsson said all the countries had agreed to delay the release, originally scheduled for September, because of conflicts with another international meeting in Iceland.
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The American scientist directing the assessment, Dr. Robert W. Corell, an oceanographer and senior fellow of the American Meteorological Society, said the timing was set during diplomatic discussions that did not involve the scientists.
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He said he could not yet comment on the specific findings, but noted that the signals from the Arctic have global significance. The report is a profusely illustrated window on a region in remarkable flux, incorporating reams of scientific data as well as observations by elders from native communities around the Arctic Circle. The potential benefits of the changes include projected growth in marine fish stocks and improved prospects for agriculture and timber harvests in some regions, as well as expanded access to Arctic waters. But the list of potential harms is far longer. The retreat of sea ice, the report says, "is very likely to have devastating consequences for polar bears, ice-living seals and local people for whom these animals are a primary food source.
Oil and gas deposits on land are likely to be harder to extract as tundra thaws, limiting the frozen season when drilling convoys can traverse the otherwise spongy ground, the report says. Alaska has already seen the "tundra travel" season on the North Slope shrink to days from about days a year in The report concludes that the consequences of the fast-paced Arctic warming will be global.
In particular, the accelerated melting of Greenland's two-mile-high sheets of ice will cause sea levels to rise around the world. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles. Newsletter Sign Up Continue reading the main story Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box. Invalid email address.
Better understanding exactly what happened in the past can thus help us better predict the near future. Yet, while many people now understand that the climate is changing, the process is relatively slow compared to our day-to-day lives. This team hopes to pull finely layered cores that will allow them to show ancient climate changes on the scale of decades, instead of millennia. On the deck of the boat, the scientists get ready to go ashore and start the heavy lifting.
Methane: Arctic Promise and Peril | Alicia Patterson Foundation
They load three old Mauser carbines with soft-nosed bullets, inspect five flare guns, and have a serious talk about polar bear safety. A single curious seal follows the zodiac raft in as they look for a staging spot. Returning, they unstrap brown plastic tubes you could buy at any plumbing store. The coring tools would not have been out of place on an s oil rig.
Dozens of trips transport two inflatable boats, pounds of drilling platforms, coring weights, a solid metal jack, a piston for driving the tubes into the mud, two boat engines, at least fifty meters of pipe, and an assortment of other equipment. Then the work starts. Between the shore and the lake is a mile of boggy, broken ground. Carrying pound sections of platform, our heavy steps are swallowed by spongy layers of ancient mosses.
Other times we sink to the top of our boots in sucking mud. Ankle-breaking boulders lie everywhere. Running from a bear seems impossible. The wind is picking up and the team hurriedly assembles the equipment.
We get to the sailboat just before the storm. For the next 24 hours, it shrieks at 70 miles per hour, churning the shallow cove.
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Again and again the anchor slips and the aluminum-skinned yacht is driven perilously close to the rocks. At last, the gusts die down. Under a midnight sun shrouded in heavy gray clouds, the researchers dress for a full shift of hard labor and motor into shore. Out on the lake, crowded onto the small platform of the coring raft, Bakke and his Norwegian team sinks one of the long brown tubes through the drilling gap and into around 85 feet of water, lowering it until it touches the bottom. For the next four hours, they do hundreds of squats, hauling up and then dropping down a heavy piston, driving the pipe vertically into the mud, grit, sand, and gravel of the lake bed.
A five-foot sample usually takes a couple of hours of this ab-crunching workout. The pipe can provide a core of up to 20 feet. The scientists, after coming all this way and going through so many hazards, are determined to pull as long—and ancient—a core as possible from the lake. They work for six hours. They collect baggies of sediment and take water samples and GPS elevation readings.
After working from midnight to noon, the rig team has pulled a long core and a short core, and the land team has completed its exploration and measurements. Meeting back at the gravel beach, the fatigued expedition members begin the exhausting job of undoing all their work and heading back to the boat.
Finished after three more hours, the scientists know they have two and a half more days at sea, four lakes, and many more repetitions of the coring process ahead of them.
What Extremely Warm Winters Mean for the Future of the Arctic
Although they cannot foresee the the big storm waiting for them, what they all know is that the danger and exhaustion is worth every moment of exploration and discovery. Expedition Braves Arctic Perils for Climate Science After being foiled for years by the harsh conditions, researchers were finally able to collect key core samples from a remote lake in Svalbard—which may provide valuable insight into how our climate will change over the coming decades. By John Wendle. Video by John Wendle. National Geographic produced this content as part of our partnership with Rolex , formed to promote exploration and conservation.
Expedition Braves Arctic Perils for Climate Science Scientists risk their lives in the harsh, unpredictable Arctic to study climate change. Ahlmannfonna glacier. Barents Sea. Photograph by John Wendle.