Climate study says it’s too late to save summer Arctic sea ice – The Hill


The window has closed to prevent the melting of summer Arctic Sea ice due to human-caused climate change, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

The research indicates that even under a scenario where carbon emissions are sharply curtailed, the Arctic will be “practically” ice-free in September by the middle of the 21st century. The study’s projection goes even further than the warning issued in 2021 by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which determined there is still a chance to save the summer ice in a scenario where warming is kept below 2 degrees Celsius.

The research is also more pessimistic about the speed of ice loss, predicting the loss of summer ice by the 2030s, as opposed to the IPCC projection of the 2040s under a high- or intermediate-emissions scenario.

Under the intermediate and high-emission scenarios, meanwhile, the Arctic will also be free of sea ice in August and October by the final decades of the century, according to the research.

Researchers, led by Seung-Ki Min of Pohang University, modeled based on existing data to determine how much of the past ice loss was attributable to greenhouse gas emissions versus natural factors, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the sun’s intensity. Ultimately, the authors wrote, the findings indicate the need for resilience planning centered on the likelihood of a more extreme scenario.

“By scaling models’ sea ice response to greenhouse gases to best match the observed trend in an approach validated in an imperfect model test, we project an ice-free Arctic in September under all scenarios considered,” they wrote. “These results emphasize 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.”

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