The main nursery of Arctic ice in Siberia is yet to freeze, even as late as October, raising alarms in the scientific community since this is the latest date the ice is unfrozen, ever since the activity was recorded.
The reason, as climate scientists say, is a strikingly protracted warmth in Northern Russia, and the intrusion of the Atlantic waters, that is causing the delay in the annual freezing of the Laptev sea, The Guardian reports.
The alarming news comes after the northern Russian region recorded 5C more than average temperatures, sparking natural disasters like wildfires, permafrost melt.
A study attributed the major spike in temperature to greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport, and farming. The last winter’s sea ice also recently declined unusually early, following a year of a record-breaking heatwave.
It also comes as the longest-ever scientific expedition to the Arctic came to an end this month, with a grim verdict – the Arctic is dying,’ We The World reported.
“The lack of freeze-up so far this fall is unprecedented in the Siberian Arctic region,” a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University, Zachary Labe said.
Graphs of the current scenario of sea-ice in the Laptev sea shows an unusual flat-line, which usually records a healthy and rhythmic seasonal pulse.
“2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century,” Labe wrote in an email to the Guardian.
The study authors say the reason for this year’s late icing on the sea is in-line with the expected change due to human-driven climate change. If not for humans, the same heatwave would have stuck the region once in 80,000 years, the authors said.
The warm air is not the sole reason for late ice formation. Warmer Atlantic currents are disrupting the stratification between the deep warm waters and cool surface waters, further pushing away the right conditions for ice formation.
Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center said what ice now typically forms in the Arctic is half of what it was in the 1980s.
Meier also said this downward trend of ice formation will likely continue until the Arctic has its first projected ice-free summers between 2030 and 2050.
Earlier reports have already warned that the effects of climate change, be it human-induced or natural, strike the Arctic twice as fast as the global average.
The pain of Laptev
The formation of ice on the Laptev is more than a seasonal rhythm. The sea, called the birthplace of ice plays a tremendous role in supporting the polar/Arctic ecosystem.
Every winter, ice forms in the shores of the Laptev, which then drifts westwards disseminating the nutrients across the arctic as it passes through.
The nutrients feed the planktons — a crucial component of the marine ecosystem — and the ice breaks up during spring in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard, the Guardian reports.
When the ice forms late in Laptev, it forms thinner, brittle and therefore is more susceptible to melt before it reaches Farm Strait. This will also mean less nutrient for the planktons, which will have a reduced capacity to draw atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The Arctic is dying!
Scientists, after sailing the Arctics for over a year at a stretch reported damages first-hand. They say unprecedented degradation of one of the world’s most-primitive ecosystems still intact.
The Polarstern research vessel that floated through the arctic was reportedly able to sail through huge swathes of water, without any trace of ice, as far as the horizon at some points. This goes to indicate the amount of ice loss in the region, in recent times.
Climate change in itself is a bane to humanity but is a double whammy when it comes to the Arctic. The Paris Climate Agreement seeks to bar the scheduled global rise of temperature by 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial levels.
But the efforts by the 184 nations that signed the agreement to down the greenhouse emission is nearly not enough, National Geographic reported.
Some nations won’t succeed in the pledge, while the world’s leading carbon emitters will continue to poison the planet, a panel of world-class climate scientists predicted.
“The impact of the shortfall in economic losses from weather events influenced by human-induced climate change escalating to at least $2 billion per day by 2030,” the 30-page report titled ‘The Truth Behind The Climate Pledges‘ said.
“In addition to the cost, weather events and patterns will continue to change, and will adversely affect human health, livelihoods, food, water, biodiversity, and economic growth,” it added.