By Stephen Leahy
QUEBEC CITY, Canada, Dec 12 (IPS) – Nearly 1,000 scientists and representatives of indigenous peoples from 16 countries have braved a major winter storm to share their findings and concerns about the rapidly warming Arctic region at the International Arctic Change conference in Quebec City.
The Arctic is “ground zero” for climate change, with temperatures rising far faster than anywhere else on the planet. Some predict an ice-free summer Arctic in less than five to 10 years — the first time the Arctic Ocean will be exposed to the sun in many hundreds of thousands of years.
The speed of change has scientists scrambling to understand the impacts on indigenous people, wildlife and ecology.
“The Arctic will be full of future surprises,” said David Carlson, an oceanographer and director of the International Polar Year programme office.
“Protected by its cover of sea ice, the Arctic Ocean is the last unblemished ocean on the planet,” Carlson told IPS.