DATE: July 10, 2019
SNIP: Global warming limits laid out by the landmark Paris climate agreement do not rule out an Arctic devoid of summer sea ice, according to new research out this week.
The findings, published July 9, are a grim indicator that even a best-case scenario for limiting climate impacts could still have unprecedented implications for the planet.
They also underscore the potential for even more dire situations, which are growing more likely as countries, including the United States, fail to reach their individual climate goals under the Paris Agreement.
Published by scientists from South Korea, Australia, and the United States, the new research appears in this week’s issue of Nature Communications and offers an ominous forecast for climate advocates. Using 31 different climate models, the experts found that there is at least a 6% probability that summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean will disappear in a scenario long cited as the most optimistic: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
[T]his week’s study highlights the need to establish what level of warming would bring forth an ice-free Arctic — a scenario in which there would be no white mass of ice to reflect sunlight and maintain cooler ocean temperatures. The less sea ice there is to reflect the heat, the more warming is likely to occur. While the researchers note that Arctic sea ice is all but guaranteed to disappear in a situation involving more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the potential for such a melting at lower temperatures also remains cause for alarm.