If the changes in climate predicted for this century come to pass, everyone will be affected, but the people and creatures of the Arctic will face some of largest challenges.
Many arctic locales are already feeling the heat. Between 1943 and 2002, average annual temperatures in coastal regions north of 50°N—the latitude of Prague, Czech Republic, and Winnipeg, Manitoba—increased by 0.4°C, says John E. Walsh of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Average temperatures in the inland regions of those high latitudes jumped an average of 0.8°C. Some spots have seen even steeper rises: Average annual temperatures along the northern coast of Alaska have risen a full 2°C since 1973, Walsh notes.