Throughout the year, Sea ice in polar regions enables the production of algae that supports the Arctic food web. The ice offers refuge for migrating seabirds, hunting grounds for seals, polar bears, and other important species, and grazing depots for krill and fish.
Sea ice gains thickness during winter and melts partially during the summer and autumn; with the climate warming at its current rate, the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free during the summer.
When water warms and ice melts, the sea-level goes up – jeopardizing communities, habitats and species from the Arctic to the Pacific islands and beyond.
By the end of the century, sea levels could rise by up to 4 feet due to thermal expansion and the increased meltwater from glaciers and continental ice caps. The 1.1°C rise in sea-surface temperature expected by 2025 will only accelerate the melting of ice caps.
Climate change is a global issue but the World’s low-lying regions face the most urgent threats to their livelihood. New water from melting ice combined with the expansion of warmer water is triggering the rapid rise of sea levels, leaving island nations and coastal communities prone to shoreline erosion, flooding and violent storms.
These coastal populations contribute the least to climate change but are affected the most. Citizens of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati are among the world’s first refugees displaced due to sea-level rise; up to 30% of the country’s mangroves may be lost by 2100.