“Right now, the Arctic is a carbon ‘sink’ holding more of the greenhouse gas in its plants and permafrost than it emits, according to George Kling, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, who’s among the chief researchers here,” writes Karin Klein. “But the balance is fairly narrow; the goal of much of the research is to determine not only how climate change will affect Arctic ecology but whether it will change the balance so that the Arctic adds carbon to the atmosphere instead of taking it out.

“That has worldwide implications. As Kling is fond of saying, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The air will circulate throughout the Western Hemisphere in about two years. Right now that means some of our carbon is making it back to the Arctic and being sequestered for us. But at some point, it could mean that the Arctic contributes to the warming of the planet.”

Read the full Los Angeles Times opinion piece