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Melt at the Top of the World

Pollution at the top produces melting there too. As the ice-capped Arctic Ocean warms, ship traffic will increase at the top of the world. And if the sea ice continues to melt, a new route connecting international trading partners may emerge. Increased shipping may bring more markets to sell to and thus more manufacturing, creating more jobs, but alas, it's not all good news: It will also have significant repercussions to the climate.

Growing Arctic ship traffic will bring with it air pollution that has the potential to make climate change WORSE, by accelerating climate change in the northern part of the Earth. Engine exhaust particles from ships could increase warming by as much as 78%. Researcher James Corbett says, "One of the most potent 'short-lived climate forcers' in diesel emissions is black carbon, or soot. Ships operating in or near the Arctic use advanced diesel engines that release black carbon into one of the most sensitive regions for climate change."

Europe experienced extreme cold this winter, and rresearchers have found a link between low levels of ice in the Barents-Kara Sea (which is north of Norway and Russia) and an increased probability of harsh winters across Europe, like the one the UK just had. Ocean warming, caused by climate change, don't just lead to more hurricanes--they also reduce the amount of ice in the Arctic Sea, and this reduction leads to a loss of ocean heat which warms the lower atmosphere and triggers cold winter winds that sweep across Europe.

In Reporting Climate Science.com, Leon Clifford quotes climatologist Vladimir Petoukhov as saying, "Just yesterday I checked the sea ice in the Barents-Kara and it was very low. Nearly as low as it was between 2005 and 2006 (when there were also harsh European winters)."

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