A range of less than one degree Fahrenheit, or half a degree Celsius, of climate warming over the next century, could be proven crucial for Arctic as it increases the probability of future ice-free summers in the Arctic, a research by the University of Colorado shows.
The findings published in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that a warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) would reduce the possibility of an ice-free Arctic summer to 30% by 2100, while a warming by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) would make at least one ice-free summer certain.
Alexandra Jahn, author of the study and an assistant professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a fellow in the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), said:
I didn’t expect to find that half a degree Celsius would make a big difference, but it really does. At 1.5 degrees Celsius, half of the time we stay within our current summer sea ice regime whereas if we reach 2 degrees of warming, the summer sea ice area will always be below what we have experienced in recent decades.
The study used simulations from the Community Earth System Model (CESM) which was run at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and examined warming scenarios ranging from 1.5 degrees Celsius all the way to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
Alexandra Jahn continued:
This dataset allows us to predict how soon we’re likely to see ice free conditions as well as how often. Under the 4-degree Celsius scenario, we would have a high probability of a three-month ice free period in the summer months by 2050. By the end of century, that could jump to five months a year without ice. And even for half that warming, ice-free conditions of up to 2 month a year are possible by the late 21st century.
The research also noted that if warming stays at 1.5 degrees Celsius, the possibility of ice-free summers would drop by 70%, delaying or potentially even avoiding such a development.