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Melting of Arctic ice cap could trigger catastrophic climate change

While the overall temperature in the Arctic region has risen to around 20 degrees, much above the expected mark, the extent of sea ice too has reached its lowest level in comparison to previous years.

Nov 28, 2016 17:09 IST
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Arctic scientists have warned that the rapid melting of ice cap stands at a risk of triggering 19 ‘tipping points’ in the region. According to the Arctic Resilience Report, this arctic warming could cause uncontrollable climate change across the globe, affecting even far-off areas like the Indian Ocean and leading to devastating consequences.

Currently, the temperature in the Arctic region is around 20 degrees, much above the expected temperature. The extent of the sea ice too is at its lowest level at this time of the year in comparison with previous years.

Such tipping points occur when sudden change envelopes the natural system and causes a deep effect on the surrounding ecosystem, which is often irreversible.

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The main tipping point, in this case, includes growth in vegetation on the Arctic Tundra that replaces reflective ice and snow with thicker vegetation, which in turn absorbs more heat and results in an increase in the release of potent greenhouse gas, methane.

This process will lead to a shift in snow distribution that warms the ocean, resulting in global climatic change affecting monsoons as far away as Asia and collapse of key Arctic fisheries, affecting oceanic life across the world. The worst-affected people of such an outcome would be people living in and around the Arctic region.

The Arctic Resilience Report, which has been compiled by 11 organisations including the Arctic Council and six universities, has come at a much-needed time. While climate change is a huge topic of concern for countries across the globe, the new US President-elect Donald Trump plans to reallocate the budget currently used for climate change by NASA and other federal agencies to space exploration.

 

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