Lockdown: polar ice keeps melting despite CO2 emissions drop
Monday, 27 April 2020
The global drop in CO2 emissions due to coronavirus lockdowns is not enough to keep the polar ice from melting, according to a study published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal on Monday.
While the North Pole is currently covered with sea ice all year round, the area covered decreases every summer and increases again in winter. The current decrease in CO2 emissions is not enough to reverse the trend, according to the study.
By 2050, there may be no more ice in the arctic during certain points in the summer, according to the large international study, in which UCLouvain participated.
Scientists examined the future evolution of the Arctic sea ice cover based on 40 climate models. Even with rapidly and substantially reduced CO2 emissions, an ice-free arctic in the summer could become a reality by the middle of the century. In fact, this may even happen before 2050, even if global warming is kept below 2ºC compared to pre-industrial levels.
However, the melting of the Arctic ice floes could slow down if ambitious climate policies are put in place at a global level. The effectiveness of climate protection measures will determine how often and how long the ice melts, according to the study’s results.
The total area of the Arctic Ocean covered in ice has been rapidly decreasing in recent decades. This is having a significant impact on Arctic ecosystems and climate, as this cover keeps the land relatively cold by reflecting sunlight.