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Arctic Ice Hit New Low in 2016


2016 was a much different year than all the rest for the North Pole. Only before December, 19,000 square miles of ice melt away in the ocean.

There haven’t been such a great loss of ice in the past. Not only that, but at the end of December, the temperatures could only reach near the freezing point, whereas in the past, the temperature was 50 Fahrenheit below the freezing point.

Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, shared his research that resumes since 1982. In this Arctic climate work he pursued since 1982, he claimed that he hasn’t seen such change for a long time.

Now that the North Pole is in danger of melting permanently, how is this condition going to affect us in the future?

Normally, the Arctic ice cap should be in its smallest possible size during September; however, each year, the minimum size decreases by 13 percent. Increase in overall temperature, in other words global warming, affected the ice loss drastically. The drastic loss and increased temperatures were actually expected according to the correlation between the recent temperature increase and the ice loss.

The perpetual ice in the Arctic sea has also decreased in size since 1984. The question that climate scientists tried to answer was whether this was an irreversible change in the Arctic sea and would create a butterfly effect with the increased solar radiation and decreased reflection in the Arctic sea.

Four researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, published an article in 2011 regarding the Arctic ice. Through a computer simulation, researchers removed all the ice from the ocean to see what would happen next. Next winter, ocean lost too much heat that the ice actually started to form again.

This resulted in theoretically proving that the Arctic ice doesn’t have tipping point. Yet, there are examples to this result that would make the theory a reality. When the temperatures hit the lowest in September 2007, the ice eventually formed again and came to a balance after the drastic temperature drop.

The same fortunate future for the Arctic ice cannot be said for the ice covering Greenland. Greenland’s ice decreases in height and loses mass each year.

Change Has to Be Made

No matter how much the Arctic ice is resilient to the temperature changes, there is a limit to this resilience. According to Notz, people should reduce the the fossil fuel consumption if they do not want to make an iceless Arctic a standard reality. In the Science journal, a paper that showed the correlation between carbon dioxide emission and sea ice loss was published. To be precise, according to the paper, with each ton of carbon dioxide, 32 square feet of sea ice disappears.

The good news is that it is possible to reverse the destruction of Arctic ice by reducing and regulating the greenhouse gas production. The bad news is that governments are not doing anything to make that change. People cannot calculate their greenhouse gas emission with each of their move. On the contrary, governments should take action to regulate the emission and reduce the amount of production through law and enforcement. If no action is done, an iceless sea awaits us by 2030.

[via National Geographic]

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