[Answered] What is Arctic amplification? What are the factors causing it? How would it impact global and local environmental conditions?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some factors causing Arctic amplification. Also, write how it would impact global and local environmental conditions.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Global warming has increased the planet’s average temperature by 1.1 degrees Celsius. Any change in the surface air temperature and the net radiation balance tend to produce larger changes at the north and south poles. This phenomenon is known as polar amplification. These changes are more pronounced at the northern latitudes and are known as the Arctic amplification.

Factors causing Arctic amplification:

  • Global warming-driven causes.
  • Ice-albedo feedback: Sea ice and snow have high albedo (measure of reflectivity of the surface), implying that they are capable of reflecting most of the solar radiation as opposed to water and land.
  • Ocean heat transport: In the Arctic’s case, global warming is resulting in diminishing sea ice. As the sea ice melts, the Arctic Ocean will be more capable of absorbing solar radiation, thereby driving the amplification.
  • Lapse rate feedback: The lapse rate or the rate at which the temperature drops with elevation decreases with warming. Studies show that the ice-albedo feedback and the lapse rate feedback are responsible for 40% and 15% of polar amplification respectively.

Impact on global environmental conditions:

  • The Greenland ice sheet is melting at an alarming rate, and marked by young and thinner ice replacing the old and thicker ice sheets.
  • Greenlandic ice sheet holds the second largest amount of ice, after Antarctica, and therefore crucial for maintaining the sea level. If it melts completely, the sea level would be capable of subsuming island countries and major coastal cities.
  • The acidification of water and changes in the salinity levels, are impacting the biodiversity, including the marine and the dependent species.
  • The warming is also increasing the incidence of rainfall which is affecting the availability and accessibility of lichens to the reindeer.
  • The Arctic amplification is causing widespread starvation and death among the Arctic fauna.
  • The permafrost in the Arctic is thawing and in turn releasing carbon and methane which are responsible for global warming.

Impact on local environmental conditions:

  • Monsoons in the subcontinent: The reduced sea ice in the Barents-Kara sea region can lead to extreme rainfall events in the latter half of the monsoons — in September and October.
  • According to the World Meteorological Organization’s report, ‘State of Global Climate in 2021’, sea level along the Indian coast is rising faster than the global average rate. One of the primary reasons for this rise is the melting of sea ice in the polar regions, especially the Arctic.

The Arctic amplification furthers the idea that “what happens in the Arctic does not remain in the Arctic” and can substantially affect tropical processes far south. So, comprehensive measures should be adopted to tackle this situation.

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