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Arctic will have iceless summer by 2050: study

photo of polar bear
Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson Churchill Manitoba

The Arctic Ocean will see an iceless summer within the next 30 years, according to a new study looking at the impact of climate change on the region.

The study, conducted by McGill University in Montreal, found that the impact of climate change could have “devastating consequences for the Arctic ecosystem” by the year 2050, according to USA Today.

Satellite recordings started tracking Arctic ice in the summer of 1979 and have reported a loss of 40 percent of its area and 70 percent its volume in recent years, The Guardian reported. Sea ice is the frozen ocean water that melts each summer and refreezes in winter months.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Arctic ice reached its second-lowest extent on record in 2019.

NOAA also said last week that the first quarter of 2020 was the second-warmest January through March period since temperature recordings started in 1880.

Temperatures in 2019 were reportedly 3.4 degrees above average, USA Today added.

Bruno Tremblay, a co-author of the McGill study, said that while “the Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing during this transition to an ice-free Arctic, the year-to-year variability in extent greatly increases.” 

He said the increased melting in the summer months is “making life more difficult for local populations and ice-dependent species.”

Dirk Notz, a lead author of the study, said the Arctic could experience iceless summers soon, regardless of whether carbon dioxide emissions are reduced but added that doing so would delay the process.

“If we reduce global emissions rapidly and substantially, and thus keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, Arctic sea ice will nevertheless likely disappear occasionally in summer even before 2050,” Notz said.

Tags Arctic Arctic sea ice decline Climate change Climate history Climatology Natural environment Sea ice

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