Climate change may result in disappearance of Arctic ice by 2040, warn scientists; will $500 bn proposal save glaciers?

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 09 May 2017, 02:50 PM
Climate change: Arctic ice could be all gone by 2040, warn scientists
Climate change: Arctic ice could be all gone by 2040, warn scientists

Amid the Arctic sea losing glaciers at a rapid pace due to global warming, a new study has warned that it will be free of ice 2040, 20 years before the previous estimate of 2070. Over the past three decades, the Arctic sea is dangerously melting away, which is resulting in the falling of the ice by more than half, a new research has said.

The study has been carried out by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme that comprises more than 90 scientists. It has been found that the projections for the melting of the Arctic sea have been “underestimated”.

The report found that for the past 50 years, the region had been warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Also, a significant fall in the snow cover in the Arctic regions has been witnessed, according to the report.

Scientists have said that the only thing that could help ease the predicted impacts of climate change on the Arctic sea and the rest of the world is the efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They also said that the point of no return for the ice in Arctic sea has passed.

Droughts, floods and heat waves are some of the incidents caused by the melting away of the glaciers in the Arctic sea.

The ocean currents and the winds which affect the monsoon across the world are affected by the warming in the Arctic. This further affects the food production and cropping patterns. This also results in the rise in sea level, which affects the coastal cities.

According to scientists, in order to reduce global warming, the production of carbon dioxide must also be reduced as it heats up the environment.

Meanwhile, according to NASA, between 1976 and 1996, the sea ice loss in the Arctic sea was on average 8,300 square miles per year, as compared to 19,500 square miles per year between 1996 and 2013. These figures clearly show that it had more than doubled in that period.

$500 billion plan to make more ice in the Arctic sea

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A massive scheme to add more ice to the Arctic has been proposed by a planetary scientist at Arizona State University. He says this may help in slowing down the rising global temperature. But the proposed cost will cost taxpayers $500 billion over 10 years.

Author Sid Perkins in an article published in May 2017 edition of Science News Magazine has explained that the logic behind ASU professor Steven Desch’s plan to save the world.

Desch said that the thicker ice in the Arctic would trap more heat and this can help in cutting down the global temperature.

Explaining Desch’s theory, Perkins wrote, “Ice is a good insulator, says Steven Desch, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe. That’s why moons such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, among others, may be able to maintain liquid oceans beneath their thick icy surfaces. On Earth, sea ice is much thinner, but the physics is the same. Ice grows on the bottom surface of floating floes. As the water freezes, it releases heat that must make its way up through the ice before escaping into the air. The thicker the ice, the more heat gets trapped, which slows down ice formation. That’s bad news for the Arctic, where ice helps keep the planet cool but global warming is causing ice to melt faster than it can be replaced.”

How humans can make the ice thicker in the Arctic?

ALSO READ | Arctic ice cap highly vulnerable to global warming

“Suck up near-freezing water from under the ice and pump it directly onto the ice’s surface during the long polar winter,” Perkins wrote, citing Desch. “There, the water would freeze more quickly than underneath the ice, where it usually forms.”

According to Desch’s estimates, the machines would work like windmills and would cost about $50,000 each. Perkins notes, “Over a decade, covering 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean with buoys would cost about $50 billion per year.”

First Published: Monday, May 08, 2017 01:44 PM
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