Ann Curry Reports   |  April 07, 2014

Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home? Part 3

The Arctic is home to some of the world's most dramatic climate change, scientists say, with warming oceans and air melting ice at a rate experts never imagined possible. The warming there has drastic implications for the rest of the earth, scientists say.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> he says the ice is melting on a scale and speed that scientist scientists never imagined possible.

>> greenland is loving about 300 billion tons.

>> we caught up with him in greenland. it has been discharging ice into the sea as icebergs for hundreds and thousands of years. but it has recently doubled in speed.

>> the world's fastest glacier lose an ice shelf the size of manhattan.

>>> ice has not been melting at such a furious pace just in the arct arctic, but all over the globe. from alaska, peru, the himalayas with with. he says for them, climb change is not a theory, but a fact of life.

>> the only humans around the north pole in the arctic are us. we have been here for thousands of years. and we tell you things are changing.

>> for thousands of years, a time even before memory, they have been able to read the sea ice . it's been a highway to their hunting grounds. but just in the past 20 years, it has been melting earlier and earlier in the year. it has become unpredictable and unstable.

>> two years ago here, a young couple died falling through the ice.

>> we saw firsthand how the inuit are trying to navigate this new world. they were looking for animals like walrus and seals. in a few hours they found this, thin ice . the ice is melting so fast. in the old days, it was this thick, up to my stomach. the hunters push the dogs on until they come to an expanse of open water . not so long ago, the hunters say this water would have been frozen solid this time of year. now they have to use their dogs to haul motorboats into the water instead. then, a glimpse of a seal. they haul the kill on the to boat.

>> can you explain why they're having such a hard time finding animals?

>> we have seen that the sea ice edge has been moving northward. it's on that edge where the seal like to sit and rest. that's where the hunters want to go. the problem is it's moving further north out of reach.

>> so why is the ice melting so fast? to get a look at the reasons, we bordered a boat with jason box and went out to iceberg ally.

>> ice is nature's thermometer. when it melts, extra heat went into that ice.

>> they say it is increasing here as it absorbs heat from the atmosphere around it. that warmer ocean water is driving the ice to melt.

>> it's not that the air is warming, but the water is warming.

>> yes, it's way down deep from where we are, but it's heat exchange . that's the trigger mechanism for the acceleration of these glaciers.

>> but if it is speeding up the melting of the glaciers, he has a new surprising theory about something else that may be speeding up the warming even more. the usually pristine ice looked dirty gray in areas.

>> there is huge swaths of darkness, what does that mean?

>> it's likely dust, but also that is some wildfire soot.

>> it was hard to imagine, but box was saying that soot from wildfires has traveled all of the way here, coating the ice and turning it into what he calls dark snow.

>> and what happens?

>> light absorbing impurities trap more sunlight, and that can hasten the melting process.

>> and if there is more forest firings, there will be more soot, and that causes faster melt, so what are we talking about here?

>> it's a good example of human activity and climate change that create complex changes to further climate change .

>> and that makes inuit leader aqqaluk lynge up set.

>> why should we pay the price for your way of life? why?

>> and there is something more he asks, that we think about.

>> we are experiencing the climate change every day. and you are only going to see it tomorrow.

>> in fact, most scientists say that the tomorrow aqqaluk talks about may have already gun. -- begun.

>> how did my house get here? begun.

>> how did my house get