What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic

Report on the North Pacific Arctic Conference, Honolulu, HI, 11-12 August, 2016

Watch commentary here.

Arctic ice melt is a huge change for the globe

A drama is unfolding in the Arctic. If the Greenland ice sheet (an area three times the size of Texas) melted, sea level would rise about 6 meters. While this hasn’t happened yet, the National Snow and Ice Data Center which keeps track of all things cold says “From 1979 to 2006, summer melt on the ice sheet increased by 30 percent, reaching a new record in 2007.” Sparsely populated, ‘inhospitable’ frozen and dark, the Arctic has been populated by indigenous communities for millennia. It is fiercely fought over for its resources by the nations that border it: eight nations that form the Arctic Council.

Climate change is causing the biggest ice sheets to melt. What will it mean to have this huge quantity of fresh water dumped into the oceans? To discuss all aspects of this phenomenon, 35 Arctic experts came together at the East-West Center to thaw out in Hawaii on August 11 and 12, 2016.

Who was here and what did they talk about?

UNFCCC Climate superstar Dan Reifsynder was here as well. “Stay tuned,” he said to the audience. “More is coming in September when nations meet with their ratified agreements for Paris—the agreement may even come into force this year.”  This is indeed fast movement for 180+ countries. Representing country and indigenous governments, and research institutions, the main questions participants of the 2016 North Pacific Arctic Conference dealt with were:

  1. How does the Paris Agreement affect the Arctic?
  2. How does the Arctic affect global climate?

What were the outcomes?For the interested non-expert, take away messages were:

-The arctic is melting, and it’s melting fast

– We have very little information on these big changes.

– These huge gaps in baseline knowledge make it difficult for us to become resilient and adapt to the big changes that are coming

For the expert, this group publishes an exhaustive report each year on this North Pacific Dialog.


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