The Arctic is currently warming roughly twice as fast as northern mid-latitudes, triggering a cascade of environmental effects. The most visible of these are shrinking glaciers and ice caps, and a progressive reduction in sea-ice cover. Less visible is degradation of permafrost, which results locally in subsidence and flooding, and generally in the release of carbon dioxide and methane through thaw and microbial decomposition of organic material that was locked in permafrost for millennia. The Arctic has been described as the thermostat of mid-latitude climate; the setting on that thermostat seems likely to change in the foreseeable and unforeseeable future.
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