Arctic to become ice-free sooner than expected

Arctic to become ice-free sooner than expected

April 02, 2024

There is lively debate in the scientific community about the future of the region.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The scientific community are debating the Arctic region’s future and the sea ice melting rate. In recent years, scientists have tended to adjust the timing towards an earlier period. Recently, researchers from South Korea and Canada said that the transition from a “white” to a “blue” Arctic, often referred to in the literature as an “ice-free” Arctic ocean, could occur as early as 2030.

In addition, the study authors argue that if the anthropogenic impact on the atmosphere remains at a high level, then regular ice-free periods in the Arctic region could be established between 2035 and 2067, RIA Novosti reports.

However, according to academician Vladimir Semenov from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics named after A.M. Obuhov RAS and the Institute of Geography RAS, everything is not so simple. The scientist explains that the Arctic will not be completely free of sea ice year-round unless global temperatures rise by ten degrees or more, which is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

According to the researcher, in summer sea ice may temporarily melt for a month or two in the central part of the North Pole, but thick multi-year ice more than six meters thick, for example, off the Canadian Arctic archipelago, does not melt even during the warmest month – September. Vladimir Semenov still admits that over time the ice may disappear there too, but certainly not in the coming decades.

To prove his words, the academician notes that the record minimum sea ice in September 2012 has not yet been surpassed.

It is worth while noting that the transition from the permanently frozen Arctic to ice-free periods marks a new climatic stage, last observed 80 million years ago. This will have a significant impact on the ecology of our planet. The lack of ice cover across much of the Arctic ocean will reduce albedo (the ability of a surface to reflect sunlight) and change the radiation balance, which in turn will increase the greenhouse effect. The Arctic itself will be hit hardest, opening the way to coastal erosion, destruction of human settlements, and threats to animals that depend on sea ice for their life cycles.

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Text: Polina Bardik, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

April 02, 2024

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