“Climate change has proceeded at double speed in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world. Altogether approximately 75% of the Arctic sea ice mass has melted already.” Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization Petteri Taalas urges countries to raise ambition level in climate talks. Taalas is one of the speakers at the Arctic Futures Symposium in Brussels (November 20th, 2017).
Quick Q&A with Secretary General Taalas:
How worrying are the latest climate news?
The recent scientific findings reported by WMO on record high CO2 concentration, continued high global temperatures as well as weather related disasters, like hurricanes, heat waves, drought and forest fires, have all underlined the necessity to raise climate mitigation ambition level to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement.
What are specific Arctic problems?
Climate change has proceeded at double speed in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world due to the melting of the ice and snowcover. Altogether approximately 75 % of the Arctic sea ice mass has melted already. Oceans also serve as a sink for carbon dioxide, which leads to acidification of the seawater. The acidification has been the strongest in the Arctic due to cold waters.
Are there any new opportunities for the Arctic?
The melting of the ice offers new opportunities for shipping, tourism and for natural resource exploitation. The Arctic weather, ocean and ice services are limited because of sparse observing networks and limitations in telecommunication systems. WMO is carrying out the Years of Polar Prediction program 2017-2019 to enhance the services for various actors. The new elliptical orbit satellite program would improve both the observing and telecommunication deficits.
You were previously head of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). How have Finland and the FMI contributed to this?
Finland and the FMI have unique expertise in icebreaker services from the Baltic Sea. This expertise is highly valuable in the Arctic area. FMI has also greatly contributed to the Arctic greenhouse gas monitoring in co-operation with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of USA and Roshydromet, by establishing two Arctic stations.
The 2017 edition of the Arctic Futures Symposium will take place on November 20th, 2017 in Brussels. The theme of this year’s symposium will be "Smart and Sustainable Investment in the Arctic's Future". Speakers will discuss topics including:
Arctic Futures Symposium agenda
Finland is chairing Arctic Council 2017-19