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Tags Current Affairs

Arctic ocean will be partly ice free by 2044

Date: 19 November 2019 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

Human-caused climate change will be making the Arctic Ocean functionally ice-free for part of each year starting sometime between 2044 and 2067, according to a study.

 

Background

Researchers had  noted that as long as humans have been on Earth, the planet has had a large cap of sea ice at the Arctic Circle that expands each winter and contracts each summer. They assume this will be changing soon.

 

Details

  • Satellite observations show that since 1979, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic in September,  the month when there is the least sea ice, before water starts freezing again has declined by 13% per decade.

  • Scientists have been attempting to predict the future of Arctic sea ice for several decades, relying on an array of global climate models that simulate how the climate system will react to all of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

  • But the prediction models have failed to create a global consensus on the onset of sea ice melting.

  • Among the current generation of models, some show ice-free Septembers as early as 2026, while others suggest the phenomenon will begin as late as 2132.

  • One reason predictions about sea ice loss diverge so much is that they differ in how they consider a process called sea ice albedo feedback.

  • The process occurs when a patch of sea ice completely melts, uncovering a seawater surface that is darker and absorbs more sunlight than ice would have.

  • That change in the surface’s reflectivity of sunlight, or albedo, causes greater local warming, which in turn leads to further ice melt, the researchers said.

  • The cycle increases the rate of warming , one of the reason the Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

  • As the Arctic ice is lost, more waters are used for commercial shipping and oil and gas exploration, which presents economic opportunity for some nations.

Benefits of sea ice

  • Arctic sea ice is a key component of the earth system because of its highly reflective nature, which keeps the global climate relatively cool.

  • Sea ice is critical to the Arctic ecosystem, and to the fishing industry and indigenous peoples who depend on that ecosystem.

Arctic ocean will be partly ice free  by 2044 19 Nov Daily Current affairs

 

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