Nav: Home

Arctic could be iceless in September if temps increase 2 degrees

August 13, 2019

Arctic sea ice could disappear completely through September each summer if average global temperatures increase by as little as 2 degrees, according to a new study by the University of Cincinnati.

The study by an international team of researchers was published in Nature Communications.

"The target is the sensitivity of sea ice to temperature," said Won Chang, a study co-author and UC assistant professor of mathematics.

"What is the minimum global temperature change that eliminates all arctic sea ice in September? What's the tipping point?"

The study predicted that the Arctic Ocean could be completely ice-free in September with as little as 2 degrees Celsius of temperature change. Limiting warming to 2 degrees is the stated goal of the 2009 Paris Agreement, the international effort to curb carbon emissions to address warming. The Trump Administration withdrew the United States as a participant in 2017.

"Most likely, September Arctic sea ice will effectively disappear between approximately 2 and 2.5 degrees of global warming," the study said. "Yet limiting the warming to 2 degrees (as proposed under the Paris agreement) may not be sufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic Ocean."

Historically, September is the month that sees the Arctic Ocean's least ice cover during the year after the short polar summer.

"They use September as a measure because that's the transition period between summer and winter in the Arctic," Chang said. "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."

The less summer sea ice the Arctic has, the longer it takes for the Arctic Ocean to ice back over for the polar winter. That could spell bad news for Arctic wildlife such as seals and polar bears that rely on sea ice to raise pups and hunt them, respectively.

The researchers applied the new statistical method to climate model projections of the 21st century. Using the climate models, the authors found at least a 6% probability that summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean will disappear with warming of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. At 2 degrees, the likelihood increases to 28%. 

"Our work provides a new statistical and mathematical framework to calculate climate change and impact probabilities," said Jason Evans, a professor who works at the University of New South Wales and its Climate Change Research Centre.

"While we only tested the new approach on climate models, we are eager to see if the technique can be applied to other fields, such as stock market predictions, plane accident investigations, or in medical research," says Roman Olson, the lead author and researcher at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea. 

Chang said he has not gotten much feedback on this study yet. But sometimes climate change skeptics will approach him at his public presentations.

"Climate scientists are very honest," he said. "We try to be as transparent as possible about the amount of uncertainty we have and lay out all of our assumptions and emphasize that when we say there is a possibility, we quantify it in the form of a probability."

He thinks public perceptions about climate change might depend on where you live.

"Most South Koreans don't question climate change, not because they're more scientific but because they can see the effects firsthand," Chang said.

"My hometown is a southern city called Daegu. It's about the size of Cincinnati. And it was famous for growing a delicious apple. But now they can't grow the apples there. The orchards are gone. It's just too hot. Now they grow them farther north."
-end-


University of Cincinnati

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...