Climate actions might not be enough to save the Arctic sea ice, scientists have warned through a study wherein they have stated that there is still a high risk that sea ice from the polar region may vanish during summertime this century.
Published in the journal Nature Climate Change are the findings of a study based on statistical review of ice projections by Exeter University scientists who reveal that even if governments around the world achieve a core target for limiting global warming set by almost 200 nations in 2015 under the Paris agreement, sea ice from Arctic might not stick around in summers.
As per the 2015 Paris Agreement, governments around the world have agreed to a goal of limiting the rise in average world temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times; however, authors of the latest study say they are far less sure that 2 degrees Celsius target can help preserve the Arctic sea ice and even claim that the target may be insufficient.
Over the last few decades the Arctic sea ice has been declining steadily and this has not only affected the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples, but has also affected the wildlife in the region. So far, the Arctic’s surface temperature has gone up by more than 2 C – twice the global average.
According to scientists, a rise in 2 C would still mean a 39 per cent risk that ice will disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summers. Ice was virtually certain to survive, however, with just 1.5 C of warming. They also estimated a 73 per cent probability that the ice would disappear in summer unless governments make deeper cuts in emissions than their existing plans. On current trends, they estimated that Earth will heat up by about 3 C (5.4 F) by the end of the century.
In March 2017, the extent of Arctic sea ice is rivaling 2016 and 2015 as the smallest for the time of year since satellite records began in the late 1970s. The ice reaches a winter maximum in March and a summer minimum in September.
“In less than 40 years, we have almost halved the summer sea ice cover,” said Tor Eldevik, a professor at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen in Norway, who was not involved in the study. He predicted that sea ice would vanish in the Arctic Ocean in about another 40 years, on current trends.
Scientists define an ice-free Arctic Ocean as one with less than 1 million square kilometres of ice because they say some sea ice will linger in bays, such as off northern Greenland, even after the ocean is ice-free.
Scientists said the Arctic could see its first ice-free summers within two or three decades if governments don’t make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.