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Arctic likely to be ice-free in summer by 2030s, says new study

A new climate model brings alarming news that the Arctic could experience ice-free summers within just the next decade

The Artcic might not have any ice during summers by 2030s. (Unsplash)
The Artcic might not have any ice during summers by 2030s. (Unsplash)

For years, scientists have warned about the possibility of ice vanishing from the Arctic due to human-induced climate change. Now, a new climate model from an international team of researchers predicts that in just 10 years, no ice might be left in the Arctic during summers.

According to the new study, if greenhouse gas emissions decline slowly or rise, Arctic will experience its first ice-free summer in the 2030s, which is a decade earlier than projections, according to a report in The Guardian

Also read: World Environment Day: Oceans are feeling the heat

In the sixth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in 2021, it was estimated that Arctic sea ice will be lost by the mid-century at the earliest and possibly as late as 2100. Many scientists had criticised the projections for being too conservative, according to a report in Science Alert.

Now, new evidence, published in Nature Communications, supports the criticisms and states that such past predictions underestimated the urgency of the situation in the Arctic region.

The latest model is based on observational data of sea ice collected between 1979 and 2019. The study, led by researchers in Germany, South Korea, and Canada, found that sea ice will disappear in the Arctic summers in the 2030s. This is regardless of how much fossil fuels were burned.

In a lower emissions scenario, the models predicted ice-free moments that were shorter and specific to the end of summer. In a high emissions scenario, it is estimated that ice will vanish from the Arctic sea ice from August to September, according to the Science Alert report.

"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," researchers wrote in the paper.

In the past three decades, 95% of the Arctic’s oldest and thickest sea ice has melted and more than 70% of current coverage is considered ‘seasonal’ as it doesn’t last through summer, the Science Alert report adds.

If ice disappears completely, it will result in dire consequences for more animals as well as regions beyond the Arctic. The sea ice coverage in the northern hemisphere reflects sunlight, playing an essential role in global climate. Its loss could drastically impact ocean temperatures and currents.

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