Experts Predict Arctic May Become “Mostly Ice-Free” Within a Decade


Experts Predict Arctic May Become “Mostly Ice-Free” Within a Decade

On September 19, 2023, the Arctic experienced its sixth-lowest minimum ice extent since NASA initiated satellite tracking. Simultaneously, at the opposite pole, the Antarctic witnessed its smallest maximum ice coverage in recorded history. This alarming trend, though not novel, appears to be exacerbating.

Since NASA began satellite observations in 1978, Arctic sea ice has been steadily diminishing. According to recent analysis, there’s a looming possibility of the Arctic experiencing ice-free conditions in September by the 2020s or 2030s. However, “ice-free” doesn’t denote complete absence; rather, it signifies less than a million square kilometers of ice coverage. Even during the 2023 minimum, Arctic sea ice covered 1.63 million square miles or 4.23 million square kilometers. Predictions suggest that by the 2030s, summer ice in the Arctic could shrink to approximately 24 percent of its 2023 size, irrespective of emission scenarios.

Researchers anticipate that this reduction will persist, projecting frequent ice-free conditions in the Arctic by 2067, extending beyond just September to August and October. Nevertheless, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions could delay this milestone. Arctic ice melting demonstrates high sensitivity to carbon emission fluctuations, implying that emission reductions could forestall prolonged ice-free periods.


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