The Arctic might not remain recognizable in the future. The Arctic Report Card released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week has revealed that the over-land temperatures of the Arctic have reached higher levels than ever before.
According to this new report, the average air temperature over land between October 2014 and September 2015 was highest ever in recorded history. When compared to average Arctic temperature of the early 20th century, the region’s average temperature during the above-mentioned phase was higher by a whopping 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Experts are saying that this increase in temperature has a couple of major consequences for the birds, fish and mammals residing in the Arctic.
The disappearance of sea ice would mean habitat loss for all the species of northern animals. Here, it has to be mentioned that unlike what popular belief suggests, polar bears are not the only animal species relying on Arctic ice platforms for finding food. Earlier this year, there were reports of swarms of walruses arriving on land as they were struggling to find ice platforms where they could chill.
For those who don’t know: walrus is a large, flippered marine mammal living in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas. These creatures are known for requiring ice platforms for mating, delivering their young, and finding shelter (for avoiding storms and hiding from predators) and food According to the announcement made by NOAA, the melting of sea ice is changing habitat of the walruses dramatically.
The past few years have seen large groups of walruses leaving the ocean and arriving on land in the northwestern parts of Alaska overcrowding the region and causing deaths of calves due to stampedes. Hundreds of adult walruses have also lost their lives due to unavailability of sufficient food. This behavior of the animals got documented by means of aerial surveys.
Besides causing loss of habitat, an increase in temperature is also forcing several new species to move into the Arctic. This change might lead to new rivalries, for instance, deadly fights between red foxes and Arctic foxes. The killer whales have also started to move towards the north eating Arctic species like narwhal and bowhead whales, creatures that previously didn’t have any predator.