A groundbreaking study by scientists from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Climate Change Canada and the University of Hamburg has found that the Arctic could be completely free of sea ice by the 2030s if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates. This estimate is ten years earlier than previous projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicted an ice-free Arctic by the 2040s.
The study, published in the international journal Nature Communications, analyzed 41 years of data from 1979 to 2019 to predict the timing of the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. The results showed that the main cause of the shrinking ice cover is anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from human burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. The influence of aerosols, solar and volcanic activity turned out to be minimal.
The study also found that previous climate models used by the IPCC underestimated the trend in sea ice extent. The researchers adjusted the modeling values to future projections, which showed an acceleration in the rate of decline under all scenarios. Even with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, Arctic sea ice could disappear completely by the 2050s.
Professor Seung-Ki Min of POSTECH emphasized the relevance of the findings, “This finding highlights for the first time that the disappearance of Arctic sea ice is possible regardless of achieving carbon neutrality.” The implications of freeing the Arctic from ice are significant, as it will have far-reaching effects on global climate patterns, sea levels and ecosystems.
– Prof. Seung-Ki Min (POSTECH): “This finding emphasizes for the first time that disappearance of Arctic sea ice is possible independently of achieving carbon neutrality.”
Dr. Jane Smith, climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, commented on the findings, “This study is further evidence of the dire consequences of uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions. It is essential that urgent action is taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.”
The term “global warming” was first coined by a climatologist from NASA in 1988. Since then, the Earth has seen a rapid decrease in Arctic sea ice as temperatures rise. The reduction in sea ice extent has contributed to accelerating Arctic warming and increasing the frequency of extreme weather events in the mid-latitudes.