These images show the extent of Arctic summer ice in 1985, and its projected extent in 2085. Many scientists believe that by 2070, the thick pack ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole could melt away entirely during the Arctic summer, leaving open water. This will be a catastrophe for the ice-breeding seals and polar bears that live in the region. The loss of summer ice and increased flow of fresh meltwater into the sea may also affect the currents that flow around the Arctic Ocean and the north Atlantic. The pack ice will form again in winter, but it will not cover such a broad area as it does now. Meanwhile more and more permafrost will disappear in the far north.
Scientists contributing to the IPCC predict that there will be up to 20 percent less rainfall in most subtropical lands. Many of these regions are already semideserts, so if they get less rain, they will dry out and become deserts. These will spread into neighboring scrubland and grassland, and could start affecting areas that are now farmland, such as the corn belt of the United States and the vineyards of southern Europe. Further north and south, summer heatwaves are likely to become more frequent and extreme.
The Pudong district of Shanghai
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