Last week marked Arctic Matters Day hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. The free, public program highlighted results from research into the environmental changes happening in the remote region and how those changes will ultimately affect us all.

Last month, at a meeting of over 20,000 scientists from the American Geophysical Union, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an Arctic report card for 2015. Its marks were not good. The maximum extent of arctic sea ice occurred two weeks earlier than in previous years and was the lowest on record. The sea ice that is present also turns out to be younger and thinner, with twice as much “first year” ice than was observed thirty years ago. The report further notes the profound effects of this waning sea ice on the local habitat, including fish, walruses, and average sea temperatures.

NASA has released a video showing the difference between the current ice cover and the extent of the ice in years past. The largest difference is just north of Japan where the ice falls roughly 350 miles short of its past extent.

Due to the clear link to their diminishing habitat, polar bears have become the poster children for the direct impact of this lost Arctic sea ice. But how does this missing ice affect the rest of us? How are our futures connected to the future of the polar bear?

Here are six ways the impact of melting Arctic sea ice is already being felt in the Arctic and beyond.


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