Ice-free Arctic summers in 20 years: report - Macleans.ca

Ice-free Arctic summers in 20 years: report

Seals, polar bears, other life forms will suffer

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Global warming will make for an ice-free Arctic Ocean in as little as 20 years, which could spell disaster for the Northern ecosystem, according to leading British polar scientist Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge. While he expects the winter ice to stay for centuries more, an ice-free summer will raise sea levels and endanger seals, polar bears and other species, also meaning the Earth will appear blue, not white, when photographed from space. What’s more, a new sea route North of Russia will become navigable. To reach his conclusions, Wadham’s compared ice thickness measurements from 2007 to ones gathered this year. The Arctic ice plays as important role in the world’s climate, he notes; as the ice melts in the summers, it exposes ocean water that absorbs sunlight instead of reflecting it, which accelerates global warming. “The Arctic Sea ice holds a central position in our Earth’s climate system. Take it out of the equation and we are left with a dramatically warmer world,” he told Reuters. “This could lead to flooding affecting one-quarter of the world’s population, substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions …. and extreme global weather changes.”

Reuters

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