Recently, a research team studied the impacts of global warming on the Artic during the International Polar Year, which came to an end in 2008. The expedition was led by Eric Post, a professor of biology at Penn State University. The team’s findings were recently published in the journal Science.
While not all the information attained from the expedition was new or surprising, the team was able to further track the numerous changes occurring in the Arctic. The team found that the changing growing season due to global warming is drastically impacting wildlife, most are negatively impacted while some are actually seeing positive impacts.
In terms of his findings, Post stated: “Arctic ecosystems have been severely perturbed. The Arctic as we know it may soon be a thing of the past. Species on land and at sea are suffering adverse consequences of human behavior at latitudes thousands of miles away. It seems no matter where you look- on the ground, in the air, or in the water- we’re seeing signs of rapid change.”
In terms of the impacts of global warming on particular species and distinct groups of species, Post stated: “Not all populations within a given species respond similarly to warming because physical and landscape features that interact with climate can vary tremendous from site to site.”
Caribou are suffering, in large part due to their birthing seasons now coming at a different time from the growing season. This has led to not enough food for the newly born caribou. In addition, the increased temperatures due to global warming are increasing insects and parasites that are a problem for caribou.
Polar bears and ringed seals, in addition to problems with decreasing ice, are experiencing loss of pups from collapsing lairs due to weaker ice and early rains. In addition, red foxes are moving north and displacing Arctic foxes.
Wild reindeer are benefiting from global warming due to the decreasing snow cover. These wild reindeer do not migrate and therefore more readily benefit from earlier growing seasons. The increased food is enabling their populations to flourish and survive.