glacier in greenland. Photo: Martin Jakobsson

The Arctic Council working groups presents reports concerning the environment in Arctic within different areas, such as climate change, pollutions, plastics, flora, fauna and wetlands.

A new report from the working group Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), focuses on emissions and the impact of Short-lived Climate Forcers, shortened SLCFs (black carbon, methane, ozone, and sulfate aerosols) on air quality, health, and climate in the Arctic.

The report shows that between 1990-2015, the change in emissions of SLCFs has almost doubled the warming of the Arctic, compared to forcing only from CO2. The main cause is the decrease of sulfate aerosol emissions, mainly in regions outside the Arctic. However, the reduction of sulfate emissions has at the same time improved air quality with associated benefits in terms of strongly reduced acidification of our ecosystems. In the emission regions, hundreds of thousands premature deaths have also been avoided.

Why is that? While black carbon, ozone, and methane have contributed to Arctic warming, sulfate aerosols from emissions of sulfur dioxide have a cooling impact on the climate. In other words, sulfate aerosols masks some of the warming from carbon dioxide and warming SLCFs.

Writes the authors of the report:
“Reducing emissions of SLFCs will impact the Arctic climate in the short term, over the next 20-30 years. To limit Arctic long-term warming, steep and immediate reductions of carbon dioxide emissions globally are also necessary, including by Arctic Councils member and Observer countries”

“Further reductions in SLCF emissions would significantly benefit human health, globally and in the Arctic.”

The report emphasizes that the reduction of SLCFs is especially important for the rate of warming in the next few decades. To slow Arctic warming, it will be especially important to achieve maximum feasible reductions of both methane and black carbon emissions to balance the needed reductions of sulfur emissions to both mitigate air pollution and climate warming. The calculated effects when applying the maximum feasible reductions are a climate warming of about 0.27 degrees in the Arctic but also about 100 000 premature deaths in the Arctic council member states will be prevented.

Read the report Impacts of Short-lived Climate Forcers on Arctic Climate, Air Quality, and Human Health (PDF) 

Read more on Arctic Monitoring & Assessment Programme’s website.

Webinar on July 8
On July 8, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency will give a webinar (10h00–11h00) with a presentation of this report and other scientific reports focusing on climate change and the Arctic. Read more on Swedish Environmental Protection Agency website (in Swedish)