Monday, November 29, 2021

Ice on the verge of existence: Warming is changing the Arctic

While researching in Greenland, ice scientist Twila Moon was affected by what climate change this summer? Earth is doomed to lose and what can still be saved.

The Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet and on such a knife edge of existence that the UN climate talks underway in Scotland this week differentiate the same way between ice and water on the top of the world. can do Scientists say that a tenth of a degree counts around the freezing mark.

The Arctic ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking, with some glaciers already gone. Permafrost, the icy soil that traps the powerful greenhouse gas methane, is melting. Wildfires have raged in the Arctic. Siberia also hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 °C). Even an area called the Last Ice Area This year showed an unexpected thaw.

Over the next few decades, the Arctic is likely to see summers with no sea ice.

As she regularly returns to Greenland, Moon, a researcher at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, said she finds herself “mourning and mourning the things we have already lost” to past carbon dioxide. Because of emissions that trap heat.

But now that we decide how much more carbon pollution the Earth emits, it will mean “an incredibly big difference between how much ice we keep and how much we lose and how quickly,” she said.

The fate of the Arctic looms large during climate talks in Glasgow – the farthest talks have taken place in the north – because what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Scientists believe warming is already contributing to weather disasters elsewhere around the world.

“If we end up in a seasonal sea ice-free Arctic in the summer, this human civilization will never know,” said Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist who runs the University of Colorado’s environmental program. “It’s like taking a sledgehammer to the climate system.”

What is happening in the Arctic is a runaway effect.

“Once you start melting, there’s more of that kind of melt,” said University of Manitoba ice scientist Julian Strove.

When covered with snow and ice, the Arctic reflects sunlight and heat. But that blanket is shrinking. And as more sea ice melts in the summer, “you’re actually revealing dark ocean surfaces like a black T-shirt,” Moon said. Like dark clothing, open ocean spots absorb the sun’s heat more easily.

According to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, between 1971 and 2019, the surface of the Arctic warmed three times faster than the rest of the world..


“The Arctic isn’t just changing in temperature,” Abdalati said. “It is changing in the state. It’s becoming a different place.”

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The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set a goal of limiting Earth’s warming to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial temperatures, or, failing this, it below 2 °C (3.6 °F). kept. The world has already warmed by 1.1 °C (2 °F) since the late 1800s.

The difference between what happens at 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees compared to the rest of the world could hit the Arctic hard, says University of Alaska Fairbanks climate scientist John Walsh, a member of the Arctic monitoring team. “We can save the Arctic, or at least preserve it in many ways, but if we go above 1.5 we will lose it.”

Strove said that the Arctic itself has passed 2 degrees Celsius of warming. It is approaching 9 °C (16 °F) of warming in November, she said.

For John Waghi Jr. the arctic is not a number or an abstraction. It has been home for 67 years, and he and other elders of the Bering Sea have watched the Arctic change due to warming. Sea ice, which allows humans and polar bears to hunt, is shrinking in the summer.

“Ice is very dangerous nowadays. It is very unpredictable,” said Waghi of Savonga, Alaska. “Ice packs affect all of us spiritually, culturally and physically, because we need it to continue harvesting. ”

Snow is “at the core of our identity,” said Deli Sambo Douro, international president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, representing 165,000 people in several countries.

This isn’t just a problem for people living in the Arctic. This causes trouble for the areas far south.

An increasingly large number of studies link Arctic changes to changes in the jet stream – the river of wind that carries weather from west to east – and other weather systems. And those changes, scientists say, could contribute to more extreme weather events like floods, droughts, the February Texas freeze, Or more serious wildfires.

In addition, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers can cause sea levels to rise.

“The fate of places like Miami is very closely tied to the fate of Greenland,” said David Balton, director of the US Arctic Executive Steering Committee, which coordinates US domestic regulations involving the Arctic. and deals with other northern countries. “If you live in Topeka, Kansas, or if you live in California. If you live in Nigeria, your life is going to be affected. … The Arctic matters on all sorts of levels.”


Read stories on climate issues by The Associated Press


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter @borenbears.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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