We may have crossed the point of no return at the North Pole

Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities may already have triggered an irreversible mechanism: the complete melting of Arctic ice during the summer months. This was stated by Marcus Rex, an atmospheric physicist and climate scientist and Chairman of the Board of Directors The largest scientific expedition ever conducted into the ice around the North Pole, conducted between September 2019 and October 2020. During a press conference in Berlin in which the first conclusions about the data collected during the expedition were presented, Rex said:

The disappearance of the summer ice pack in the Arctic is one of the first mines in a minefield, and one of the points of no return we reach by raising temperatures so much. (…) It is legitimate to ask if we have already set foot on this mine and the cause of the explosion.

The Arctic, that is, the ocean covering the northern part of the Earth, is partially frozen all year round: in summer, the area of ​​​​the ice shelves, called the ice pack, decreases compared to the winter, and in recent decades this decrease has become more and more prominent. For a number of reasons, in fact, the Arctic is one of the most exposed regions of the planet Global Warming.

The campaign led by Rex involved 300 scientists from twenty countries, and it happenedحدث On board the Polarstern . icebreaker: It lasted 389 days, cost 140 million euros and made it possible to collect 150 terabytes of data – 150,000 gigabytes – about the atmosphere, oceans, ice and ecosystems of the Arctic. 2020 is doing faster than in the past, given that we measure the rate of melting, and that its volume is halved compared to a decade ago. Do. Compared to the 1890s, when explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen measured Arctic temperatures, there was an increase of 10°C.

Markus Rex, center, with German Education and Research Minister Anja Karlicic, right, and physicist Stephanie Arndt while presenting the first results of the Polarstern scientific expedition, on June 15, 2021 (Felix Schröder/dpa, ANSA)

“Only by making new measurements in the coming years will we be able to determine if we can save the Arctic ice pack even in summer, thanks to continued climate protection, or if we really pass this important tipping point in the climate system,” Rex said. The complete summer melting of the glacier, in turn, can have consequences for the climate of Arctic lands, such as Greenland.

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– Read also: It’s getting hotter in the Arctic


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