The Arctic is affected by global warming before the rest of the world because of the presence of ice and snow, and the Arctic will intensify the human consequences of global warming because of the ways ice and snow are integral to regulating Earth's surface and atmospheric temperatures.
The second step in the process of global warming in the Arctic is therefore the melting of ice and snow. Due to the increase in anthropogenic chemical emissions, the greenhouse effect is exacerbated. The exacerbation of the greenhouse effect then causes a rise in surface and atmospheric temperatures. Due to the rising atmospheric and surface temperatures, snow and ice in the Arctic begin to melt. The melting of snow and ice in the Arctic leads to several unfortunate consequences. First, sea levels begin to rise as the ice melts. Rising sea levels can cause major upheavals in climate: not only can flooding occur, but also droughts. Regions that are not used to heavy rainfall might receive increased precipitation due to the patterns of evaporation and wind currents. Second, the melting ice and snow cause what is known as positive feedback mechanisms.
Positive feedback due to global warming in the Arctic mainly implies that the melting ice leads to an increased amount of solar radiation reaching the earth, which in turn creates warmer temperatures. Normally, ice and snow reflect solar radiation (heat) back into space. Less ice means less radiation being reflected away from the surface of the earth....
Secondary positive feedback mechanisms include the fact that frozen soils begin to melt, which cause a rapid shift in the world's ecosystems. Shifting ecosystems can cause a wide range of problems for human beings, as food sources change. Another reason why the Arctic is extremely susceptible to global warming, and thus responsible for most of the damage, is that dry Arctic air already prevents evaporation of water. Less moisture means less evaporation, which in turn means less heat.
Basically, global warming in the Arctic is a vicious cycle that begins with human factors such as automobile and factory emissions. Increased chemical emissions create an exaggerated greenhouse effect, which warms the overall atmospheric and surface temperatures of the globe. These increased temperatures are felt especially strongly by the Arctic regions. The Artic regions react especially strongly to global warming because of the high concentration of ice. Ice normally reflects solar radiation, or heat, into space, but when the ice melts, less heat is radiated back into space and more heat is absorbed into the Earth. Therefore, global warming is exacerbated by its effects in the Arctic.
Bhattacharya, Shaoni, "Arctic Warming at Twice Global Rate." New Scientist. 2 Nov 2004. Online at http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6615..
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Ravilious, Kate. "Arctic Melt May Dry Out U.S. West Coast." New Scientist. 11 April 2004. Online at http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4856.
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