The arctic ice cap is getting smaller all the time, but humans may not be the only reason that it is shrinking. On Monday a group of US scientists announced research that suggests that a natural melt cycle could be responsible for as much as half of the ice-melt that we are observing.
The study asserts that there may be a natural freeze-thaw cycle that plays out over decades, with a reach as far as the pacific ocean. While this is good news, lead author Qinghua Ding sounded a cautious tone.
“If this natural mode would stop or reverse in the near future, we would see a slow-down of the recent fast melting trend, or even a recovery of sea ice,” He commented via email to Reuters.
In the long term, the situation isn’t as hopeful. Because the carbon emissions are steadily growing, any increase of sea ice is likely to be short-lived. Nonetheless, this is positive news.
As it stands today the north pole has little ice from a historical perspective, and there isn’t much we can do in the short term.
Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading is convinced that that we will see a day without ice at the north pole, “Looking ahead, it is still a matter of when, rather than if, the Arctic will become ice-free in summer,”
So if mother nature decides to shut off the heat, it may buy us a little bit more time. Regardless of the contribution that this cycle adds to arctic ice melt, this study suggests that humans are responsible for between 50-70% of the missing ice.
Carbon emissions are thought to be the lead cause of lost sea ice, so it would behoove us change the way we create energy. Sooner or later we have to transcend our largely outdated infrastructure, and there is no time like the present.