Arctic faces collapse as ice disappears - scientists

Arctic faces collapse as ice disappears - scientists
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The Arctic is heading towards collapse, scientists warn, which will have dire effects for the rest of the world.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) latest report warns the region is now heading towards an ice-free state as temperatures warm.

"The environment is changing so quickly in such a short amount of time that we can't quite get a handle on what this new state is going to look like." NOAA Arctic Program director Jeremy Mathis told NPR.

"The rate of change is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and probably going back even further than that.

"Not only are we seeing big changes, we're seeing the pace of that change begin to increase."

The melting of the Arctic's ice will lead to devastation and change weather patterns around the world.

"What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic - it affects the rest of the planet," acting NOAA administrator Timothy Gallaudet says.

Scientists warn that if temperatures continue to increase at their current rates then widespread thawing could begin within the next decade.

This could lead to the release of greenhouse gases that are currently trapped in the ice, which would lead to even more warming.

University of Alaska-Fairbanks permafrost scientist Vladimir Romanovsky says the impact could be "very, very severe" as infrastructure throughout the Northern Hemisphere is destroyed.

Plants and animals unable to adapt to the changing environment would face habitat loss and possible extinction.

NOAA also warns the warming Arctic is "creating conditions where more extreme weather events are beginning to show up in North America".

Mr Gallaudet says he presented the report to US President Donald Trump's administration last month.

Mr Trump's officials are "factoring it into their agenda", he says.