The world may soon see a North Pole without its ice. That is because of the growing impact of global warming and scientists fear it may be too late to stop such drastic change.
A new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, predicts that the North Pole will start having an ice-free summer before 2050. Researchers said that all climate models provide the same warning, even when the global population significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
To avoid reaching the 2 degrees Celsius temperature, scientists said the world should maintain the remaining carbon budget of nearly 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. However, the study found that even if we meet that requirement, the Arctic will still become ice-free in summer in the next three decades, IFLScience reported Monday.
The team looked into data from the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). Both efforts aim to provide information on how the global climate will change based on climate policies and emissions.
“If we reduce global emissions rapidly and substantially, and thus keep global warming below 2°C relative to preindustrial levels, Arctic sea ice will nevertheless likely disappear occasionally in summer even before 2050,” Dirk Notz, study author from the University of Hamburg in Germany, said in a statement. “This really surprised us.”
The researchers analyzed 128 simulations that showed global carbon dioxide emissions of less than 1,000 gigatons. They found that 101 models predict Arctic sea ice will decline to below 1 million square kilometers in summer before 2050.
However, the team noted reducing carbon emissions could still offer some benefits to protect the North Pole from the major impact of climate change. Lower carbon levels may help keep ice-free summers to a minimum every year in the next decades.
The Arctic heavily relies on sea ice to support its ecosystem, mainly providing a hunting ground for animals and keeping the Earth’s northern region cool. The ice sheet also supports planetary weather cycles.
Researchers across the world have been warning the public and government leaders about the effects of rising temperatures, which in recent years accelerated summer melt in icy regions. The latest study highlights the importance of new measures to reduce carbon emissions to help manage the ice loss and avoid further damage on the environment.