The Arctic Ocean could run out of ice during the summer starting in the next decade, much sooner than expected, according to a scientific paper published yesterday.
Scientists from South Korea, Canada, and Germany used observational data from the years 1979-2019 to run new simulations.
“The results indicate that the first month of September without sea ice could occur in the years 2030-2050, whatever the emission scenario” of greenhouse gases, explain these scientists in the journal Nature Communications.
Strictly speaking, the absence of ice implies an area of less than 1 million km2, since residual ice could remain along the coasts.
The Arctic Ocean covers an area of about 14 million square kilometers and is covered in ice for most of the year.
September is the month of the year in which the sea ice surface is reduced to the maximum.
“That’s about a decade earlier than the most recent projections” from the UN group of climate scientists, explains Seung-Ki Min, a researcher at South Korea’s Pohang and Yonsei Universities and co-author of the paper.
The researchers also consider that the disappearance of the ice could essentially be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions, since the other factors (aerosols, solar and volcanic activity) are much less important.
Sea ice is salty water that solidifies due to the action of cold. Its melting does not directly cause the rise in the level of the oceans (contrary to that of the polar cap or glaciers) but it still has disastrous consequences.
That ice plays a very important role during the summer, because it bounces the sun’s rays.
The disappearance of the ice “will accelerate warming in the Arctic, which may cause an increase in extreme weather events in the mid-latitudes, such as heat waves and forest fires,” explains the specialist Seung-Ki Min.