Rising Arctic temperatures are affecting more than just animals like the polar bear. While the sea ice polar bears hunt, and live on, is shrinking at an alarming rate, humans are being affected as well. In the Arctic, 50 per cent of the carbon in the world is below ground in the permafrost, and represents four times the amount of carbon generated by us since 1850. According to Suzanne Tank, a University of Alberta professor, there is at least twice as much carbon in the permafrost, as is in the atmosphere. It is thought to be as much as 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon.
Although it has not been proven that northern ecosystems are not taking in more carbon than emitted (called the carbon sink), the Arctic is thought to be warming faster than the rest of the planet. Canadian Arctic waters are also predicted to no longer be a significant “carbon sink” by 2030, as growing meltwater volumes enter the Canadian basin. In the Arctic in Canada, Alaska, and Russia, whole towns have had to be moved. While buildings resting on crumbling foundations resting on warming permafrost have been demolished in Inuvik, North West Territories, Canada.