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Executive Summary for March 3rd

We review the latest Arctic news, including how nature’s clock is speeding up for some Arctic plants, the Arctic Ocean is growing more acidic, and some context that may ease U.S. Republican fears about Russia’s Arctic buildup.

Published on March 3, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

‘Nature’s Clock’ Speeds Up as Sea Ice Shrinks

The Arctic’s rapidly shrinking sea-ice cover is causing some plants to bloom earlier in the year, according to research conducted in Greenland.

As Phys.org reports, not all plants are responding in the same way. The publication offers categories: speed demons, slow pokes and those in between. A species of sedge is identified as the speediest of the lot, awakening 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago, while dwarf birch are comparatively pokey, starting its growth five days earlier than a decade ago.

As speed demons outpace the slow pokes, the composition of the Arctic landscape is quickly changing. This could be bad news for caribou who, according to research elsewhere, are finding less nutritious offerings as the climate warms.

Arctic Ocean Growing More Acidic

A study published this week finds that the Arctic Ocean is becoming more acidic, thanks to carbon dioxide that’s being sucked from the air into the sea.

While this is a global phenomenon, research indicates this process may be reaching a point in the Arctic that could prove dangerous to marine life, the Washington Post reports.

Carbon dioxide tends to dissolve more easily in cold water. And, as the Arctic’s sea ice disappears, more ocean is exposed to the air, speeding up this process.

Some Context for Russia’s Arctic Buildup

Some U.S. Republican lawmakers have been sounding the alarm over their country’s Arctic capabilities relative to that of Russia. To wit: Russia has 40 icebreakers and more on the way, while the U.S. has only two.

But as Mia Bennett notes in a recent blog post, this is not exactly a new state of affairs. Russia has led the world in icebreakers for the past six decades, and for good reason: Russia makes up half the Arctic region, and the Arctic accounts for 20 percent of the country’s economic output. It’s these economic interests, and not plans for future warmongering, that have led Russia to its recent buildup in the region, Bennett contends.

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