The Arctic is “unravelling” as the region warms more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, according to scientists.
The finding was made by a team of more than 90 researchers who also reported declining sea ice and melting glaciers.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Arctic warmed at a faster rate than at any time since records began at around 1900.
The amount of snow cover has halved since 2000 – evidence of the rapidly rising temperatures.
As a result of the changes, global sea levels are set to rise faster than previously thought. The new estimates are almost double those previously made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013.
The findings are included in the latest Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic report that is compiled every few years by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. The last edition was published in 2011.
“The Arctic that you will have by mid-century will be very different from the Arctic that we see today,” said Morten Skovgård Olsen, who coordinated the research.
“The take-home message is that the Arctic is unravelling,” Rafe Pomerance, the chair of conservation organisation Arctic 21 and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for environment and development under US President Bill Clinton, told Scientific American.
“The fate of the Arctic has to be moved out of the world of scientific observation and into the world of government policy.”