According to research on an area of 1 million square kilometers north of Greenland and the coast of the Canadian Archipelago, the ice in this area will be thinning sharply, whether it is optimistic or pessimistic.
Madrid. (European media). If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, then the Arctic Ocean may not be supported in summer by any ice at all.
This is the conclusion of a survey focusing on an area of 1 million square kilometers north of Greenland and the coast of the Canadian archipelago, where sea ice is usually thicker throughout the year and may therefore be more resistant.
The work shows that the area’s ice will begin to thin in 2050, both under optimistic and pessimistic circumstances. If carbon emissions are controlled by then, some of the summer ice could continue indefinitely under optimistic conditions. In a pessimistic scenario however, the current trajectory of carbon emissions will be maintained and the ice, along with other creatures like seals or polar bears, will disappear by 2100. The journal “The Future of the Earth” published the research.
The collapse of the entire ecosystem
Robert Newton, co-author of this study and chief researcher scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Dougherty Earth Observatory stated in a statement, “Unfortunately,” that this is a large-scale experimental we are conducting. “If the ice disappears throughout the year, the whole ecosystem that depends on it will collapse and new things will start.”
Since the 1970s, scientists have been pondering the fate Arctic sea ice. Around 2009, researchers including Newton’s co-authors Stephanie Pfirman and L. Bruno Tremblay first united around the idea of what they call the last ice zone, where summer ice is likely to leave its last place. .
The Arctic Ocean’s surface freezes in winter. It will continue to freeze even as the weather warms. It can grow to one meter thick in winter and can even reach several meters if it survives one summer. Summer is characterized by some melting and occasional open water.
This allows wind and ocean currents help to transport ice floes over long distances using different turns. Transpolar drifts are those that take ice in clockwise directions from Siberia to Greenland to Canada. Each year, some ice crosses the Strait between Greenland & Norway into the North Atlantic. They are most likely to target the Arctic’s northernmost coastline, where they will be found along Greenland or the Canadian islands. Recurrent ice streams can build layers and pressure hills up to 10 metres high. They will last for around 10 years, then they will eventually decay and degrade.
It has created a diverse marine ecosystem. Photosynthetic diatoms thrive along the edges and bottom of multi-year ice and build thick layers over time. These diatoms provide food for small animals, fish and seals, as well as polar bears who live near the ice. A thick and uneven terrain offers plenty of hiding spots for seal dens, and ice caves that polar bears can use to overwinter or raise their cubs. It is also a safe refuge for humans, even though they have icebreakers.
The majority of the ice that reached the last zone was formed from Siberian shelves by transpolar drift. Siberian Ice can also mix with Arctic Ocean ice that has formed in the middle, which can move to the last zone. However, the ocean is forming less ice and melting faster in warmer waters. According to researchers, this trend will continue and lead to the end of the ice cubes in the coming decades. While some ice will still be entering from the central Arctic and some will form locally it won’t be enough to sustain current conditions.
Research suggests that even the ice layer of the central Arctic will shrink by the middle of the century. Many years of thick ice in the Arctic will soon be gone. However, locally formed summer ice, which is only one meter thick, will still exist in the last ice area. Good news is that some seals, bears and other creatures will be able to survive in the same summer conditions as in west Alaska and parts Hudson Bay. Even partially formed ice could become a ghost by 2100 in the worst emission scenario. There won’t be any more summer ice, and there won’t be an ice-dependent ecosystem.
Newton stated that “This does not mean that it will be lifeless or sterile.” While new things will emerge, it could take a while before new organisms can invade. Although fish, diatoms and other biota might be found in the North Atlantic, it isn’t clear if they will survive all year. It might be warmer but the planet’s spin around the sun won’t change. Therefore, any new occupants (including photosynthetic organisms) will have to cope with the long Arctic winter.