Scientists issue urgent warning as Arctic could be ‘ice-free’ within the next 10 years | World | News

March 11, 2024
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Scientists have issued an urgent warning that the Arctic could be left with no ice within the next 10 years as a result of global warming. Arctic sea ice naturally shrinks in summer and freezes over again in the winter but now ice is melting more in the summer and freezing back smaller in the winter according to scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder.

They say ice could dissipate by about 25 percent eventually leading up to the Arctic’s first-ever ice-free month happening within this decade.

This would then lead to oceans heating up more quickly, melting more of the ice caps and contributing to heatwaves on land.

Normally sea ice is at its smallest point in mid-September before it then re-freezes in winter in normal annual changes in the Arctic.

But now NASA says both summer and winter ice is getting smaller, with the Arctic recording its sixth-lowest minimum ice extent since NASA started tracking it with satellites in September 2023.

Decreasing ice is not a new trend, with NASA noticing it since 1978 when it began its observations, but the situation is getting worse.

Ice-free would not mean the area is totally ice-free but instead that the ocean would have less than a million square kilometers (about 386,000 square miles) of ice coverage.

While that may sound like a large amount even at the 2023 minimum, the Arctic sea ice covered 1.63 million square miles or 4.23 million square kilometers, meaning that by the 2030s it will have shrunk by about 24%.

And officials say the shrinkage will take place “Independent of the emission scenario” meaning even if greenhouse gases are curbed the Arctic will still hit record lows.

But reducing emissions would slow down the milestone happening is the ice is particularly sensitive to changes in carbon emissions.

Scientists say that by 2067 the Arctic will be frequently ice-free, not just at the September peak but also in August and October.

The university study was published in the Nature Reviews Earth and Environment journal last week.

It read: “This would transform the Arctic into a completely different environment, from a white summer Arctic to a blue Arctic.

“So even if ice-free conditions are unavoidable, we still need to keep our emissions as low as possible to avoid prolonged ice-free conditions.”

Ice loss would lead to a decrease in the population of polar bears and an increase in heatwaves in the rest of the world.



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