A new report reveals that the Arctic is warming at a faster pace than the rest of the Earth and could experience its first summer without any sea ice by 2050 under most scenarios where the world is unable to limit climate change.
The study, released by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), found that the "vast majority" of climate models predict that the Arctic would begin experiencing summers in which all sea ice in the region melts away by 2050. The Arctic region has also warmed by more than 3 degrees Celsius since 1979, according to the report, compared to about 1 degree Celsius for the world as a whole.
The likelihood of such an event occurring, which has not happened in recorded human history, becomes 10-times greater once the Earth warms past 1.5 degrees Celsius, which it is expected to do even if the goal of the Paris climate accord is met in full.
"Because the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and some emissions of short-lived climate forcers, are driving Arctic climate change, the Arctic States, Permanent Participants, and observers to the Arctic Council should individually and collectively lead sustained, ambitious, and global efforts to reduce these emissions and fully implement the Paris Agreement," advise the report's authors.
"Changes in the Arctic have global implications. The rapid mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet and other Arctic land ice contributes more to global sea level rise than does the melting of ice in Antarctica," the report continued.
Sea level rise poses a major threat to coastal communities around the world. It is currently estimated that at least 300 million people live on land that will flood at least once a year by 2050 due to sea level rise.
The Biden administration moved to rejoin the Paris climate accord shortly after the president took office in January; the accord's goals are to limit carbon emissions and prevent the earth from warming by well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably by 1.5 degrees Celsius.