Scientists say the Arctic's ice-sheet loss is permanent

The Arctic's ice sheets are going and are not coming back, scientists presenting a new NOAA report warned last week.
By Rick Docksai | Jan 02, 2018
We will have to get used to an Arctic without ice, polar scientists told attendees at a New Orleans conference last week. The scientists said that human-driven climate change has pushed Arctic ice loss past the point of no return and that the region is now heading irreversibly toward an ice-free state, with severe implications for the rest of the globe.

An accompanying annual report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that the Arctic shows "no signs" of regaining the volumes of ice it held in earlier decades. The report called the region's state of major long-term ice loss the "New Arctic."

The region has been warming roughly twice as quickly as the entire planet, according to researchers. They have documented dramatic reductions in Arctic sea ice and glaciers in just the past decade that stem from these rising temperatures.

The ice loss will not only continue, but will disrupt ecosystems and economic activity all over the world, warned Timothy Gallaudett, NOAA's acting administrator, in a press conference related to the new report. He described major harms in particular to fishing and tourism, along with long-lasting shakeups to world weather patterns.

"What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arcticit affects the rest of the planet," Gallaudett said.

NOAA's report cites natural evidence spanning 1,500 years from lake sediments, ice cores, and tree rings and concludes that the Arctic's current rate of ice loss is a more dramatic change than any that the region has undergone in the whole 1,500-year timespan. The report's authors anticipate other tundra regions throughout the northern hemisphere thawing out over time, as well, which they said would cause widespread breakdowns in infrastructure as well as exacerbated global warming as more greenhouse gases trapped in the ice and soil escape.

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