A shocking new study says that sea ice in the Arctic could completely disappear through September each summer if average global temperatures increase by as little as 2 degrees Celsius and climate conditions continue to worsen.
“Most likely, September Arctic sea ice will effectively disappear at between approximately 2 and 2.5 [degrees] of global warming,” said the abstract of the study, published in Nature Communications. “Yet, limiting the warming to 1.5 [degrees] under the Paris agreement may not be sufficient to prevent the ice-free Arctic.”
September is usually the month that sees the least amount of ice in the Arctic and is being used as a measure because it’s the “transition period” between summer and winter, said Won Chang, the study’s co-author.
“Ice recedes from June to September and then in September, it begins to grow again in a seasonal cycle. And we’re saying we could have no ice in September,” Chang said in a statement.
Using a new statistical method of 21st-century climate projections, Chang and the other researchers found that there is at least a 6 percent probability that the sea ice disappears if temperatures rise 1.5 degrees Celsius. That bumps up to a 28 percent probability if temps rise 2 degrees Celsius.
“Our work provides a new statistical and mathematical framework to calculate climate change and impact probabilities,” Jason Evans, one of the study’s co-authors, added in the statement.
A lack of summer sea ice is of great concern for Arctic wildlife, such as polar bears and seals, which rely on the sea ice for food and raising their young.
It’s also become a source of contention amongst politicians and climate activists. In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the melting ice presented “new opportunities for trade,” as new naval passageways are opened.
In June, diplomats and climate experts gathered in Germany for U.N.-hosted talks on climate change amid growing public pressure for governments to act faster against global warming.
A study published in April showed that Earth’s glaciers are melting much faster than previously thought, losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America.
Skeptics have largely dismissed fears over man’s impact on global warming, saying climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.