Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arctic summer ice steadily shrinking

Arctic summer ice cover is constantly shrinking in the wake of climate change and global warming. By the end of August this year, Arctic summer sea ice covered only an area below 4-million sq. km. This means that the record set on Sept. 18, 2007 with a 4.17-million sq.-km has already been broken, and we are talking about the smallest minimum ice extent that was ever recorded in Arctic.

The scientists fear that this year's extreme melting of Arctic ice is only the beginning of the trend that will lead to Arctic being free of summer ice within the next 25-30 years, much sooner than it was previously thought.

The loss of Arctic summer ice will have serious consequences for our future wellbeing. Arctic ice helps regulate the climate by reflecting the sunlight, and therefore cooling the climate. No ice would cause more moisture from the oceans to enter the atmosphere which would lead to more powerful and much more frequent storms. This increase in storm frequency and storm intensity will likely affect most of the world's populated places, leading to massive damages.

Arctic has already lost much of its thick (older) ice that would remain throughout the summer. Thirty years ago the ratio between thick, older ice and seasonal ice (ice that would melt away in the summer) was about 80 % older and 20% seasonal. Today, due to the rapidly growing global warming impact this ratio has almost reversed.

Also, there are huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the big permafrost region of the Arctic, meaning that the further melting of Arctic ice could result in even more carbon emission being emitted in the atmosphere, leading to an even worse climate change impact.

Arctic is first in line when it comes to climate change impact. We sadly keep forgetting that climate change impact won't stop at Arctic but will spread further to an entire planet because we are talking about global phenomenon that will only increase in power and magnitude.

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