A key indicator of climate change, Arctic sea ice, could be declining faster than predicted, as per a study done by the University of Calgary, Canada.
The study found that satellite measurements over the years have overestimated the thickness of Arctic sea ice by as much as 25 percent because of the occurrence of salty snow.
This implies that the forecast of an ice-free Arctic ocean by 2050 could happen much earlier.
Impact of Decreasing Arctic ice Cover
Decreasing ice cover accelerates the warming of oceans, and has an impact on weather phenomena like the El Nino that influences the Asian monsoon.
It would make it difficult for animals like seals, polar bears and organisms like phytoplankton to survive.
Why prediction goes wrong?
The study is based on satellite data and extensive field measurements. It found that salty snow (It is formed when brine is expelled upward from the ice surface) does not let radar waves from satellites to go through, leading to skewed measurements.
Now, they have proposed a snow salinity correction factor that could bring down the error in estimation of sea ice thickness.
Natural swings partly responsible for Arctic sea ice loss: Study
About Arctic sea ice decline
In recent decades in the Arctic Ocean, scientists have observed that the sea ice is declining. A study completed in 2011 suggested that internal variability enhanced the greenhouse gas forced sea ice decline over the last decades. However, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reported that greenhouse gas forcing is largely, but not wholly, responsible for the decline in Arctic sea ice extent.