The Arctic as we’ve always known it is gone. According to scientists, the Arctic is trending toward an ice-free state and shows no signs of returning to the “reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” And if you’re thinking this won’t really impact your life: think again. The melting Arctic impacts global climate stability, weather and the environment, as well as important industries like fishing and tourism.

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In a report titled “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades,” the NOAA detailed how the region has undergone an abrupt change in the past few years. A decade ago, the Arctic was fairly stable despite global warming, but lately, it has destabilized to the point where it will likely never return to the frozen Arctic as we’ve known it.

Related: Scientists warn of uncontrollable climate change amid drastic Arctic melt

“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,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Program.

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So what does this mean for the future? Of course, scientists can’t say for sure, but if trends continue, the melting permafrost could become “very very severe,” destroying current roads and buildings, according to the report. It will also release greenhouse gasses that have been trapped in ice for millennia. And the impact isn’t just in the future: right now we are seeing a runaway effect, where sunlight hits the expanded water, which retains more heat, which causes temperatures to heat even further. As a result, the Arctic growing season has lengthened, wildfires have plagued the area and plankton have flourished in the warmer waters.

Scientists also believe that the changing Arctic is causing more extreme weather in North America, like the drought in California. All of this should be cause for serious concern because the melting Arctic is one of those signs that climate change is already completely changing the planet as we know it. In fact, scientists have coined a new term for the phenomenon: New Arctic. From here out, we will know the Arctic of the past as the Old Arctic while we reckon with the changes wrought by the New one.

Via Mother Jones

Images via Unsplash (1, 2)