Summers in the Arctic could be ice-FREE in just 10 years thanks to climate change, study warns
- Sea ice could be wiped from the Arctic a decade sooner than previously thought
- Scientists urge northern hemisphere nations to prepare for extreme weather
- Even if greenhouse gas emissions plummet, the future of sea ice is bleak
Summer sea ice could be wiped from the Arctic in as little as 10 years – a decade sooner than previously predicted.
Bleak research warns that we’re ‘too late’ to save polar ice amid the grave impacts of human-induced climate change.
Scientists warn that slashing greenhouse gas emissions still won’t be enough, with all scenarios pointing to no ice before 2050.
Extreme weather could be on the horizon as a result, with the team, led by Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, South Korea, urging that countries in the northern hemisphere should prepare for the worst.
‘Unfortunately it has become too late to save Arctic summer sea ice,’ Professor Dirk Notz, of the University of Hamburg, told The Guardian.
Sea ice could be wiped from the Arctic sooner than previously thought, researchers warn
‘As scientists, we’ve been warning about the loss of Arctic summer sea ice for decades. This is now the first major component of the Earth system that we are going to lose because of global warming. People didn’t listen to our warnings.’
Arctic sea ice plays an essential role in the world’s ecosystems, with its melt contributing to surging global sea levels.
An ice-free region will also render many species homeless, including already vulnerable polar bears.
Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believed the Arctic would have a ‘practically ice-free’ summer at least once before 2050.
Forecasts said this would occur within both intermediate and high emission scenarios, but there was less chance if global temperature rises stopped at 3.6°F (2°C).
Yet, the new study shows this ‘profound’ phenomenon could occur within lower emission scenarios, despite global efforts to slash greenhouse gases.
Scientists analysed satellite data from the past 41 years to predict this, provided by NASA and a number of other organisations.
‘This would affect human society and the ecosystem both within and outside the Arctic,’ authors wrote.
Scientists urge northern nations to prepare for extreme weather in the coming decades
‘These results emphasise the profound impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the Arctic, and demonstrate the importance of planning for and adapting to a seasonally ice-free Arctic in the near future.’
Scientists did not pin down an exact year for the first ice-free summer, with the Arctic subject to various environmental influences.
While heatwaves can accelerate ice melt, random volcanic eruptions can also slow it down.
This is often caused by ash and aerosols in the atmosphere which block sunlight from reaching the ice, reducing its melt.
The study also follows similar predictions from the Met Office which suggested that Arctic sea ice could be non-existent by 2035.
This was blamed on strong springtime sunshine that creates pools of water that soak up heat from the sun and worsen warming.
At the time, Dr Louise Sime of the British Antarctic Survey warned: ‘We know the Arctic is undergoing significant changes as our planet warms.
‘By understanding what happened during Earth’s last warm period we are in a better position to understand what will happen in the future.
‘The prospect of loss of sea-ice by 2035 should really be focusing all our minds on achieving a low-carbon world as soon as humanly feasible.’