Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been shrinking fast due to climate change and global warming, leaving only less than half the area than it did in the 1980s. Due to the thinning sea ice in the region, many scientists pondered whether the year-round sea ice would still be around in the future and what would happen to the animals that rely on it.
According to Phys.org, a study led by researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute addresses the question, revealing that the 1 million square kilometers region north of Greenland and the Canadian coasts will likely be the most resilient. They call this the Last Ice Area, where the summer sea ice will likely make the last stand.
Warming Climate Threatens Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area; Could Vanish by 2100 Along With Creatures That Rely on It
The Ecosystem in the Arctic Ocean Summer Ice
Scientists have pondered the fate of Arctic sea ice as global warming and climate change worsen. But looking back to its history, Fuetitech reported that most of the Arctic Ocean’s surface freezes, and scientists predict that even with climate change, it will still freeze. But in the summer season, melting will occur, and open waters will appear.
This will help the wind and currents carry floating ice at great distances, such as from North Atlantic to Greenland, Norway, and in Canadian islands. Repeated inflows of ice can build layers and pressure ridges as high as 10 meters in this region.
It will most likely last for more than a decade and will result in a rich marine ecosystem. This is where photosynthetic diatoms bloom, feeding tiny animals living near the fish that feed on them as well. Then seals and polar bears would eat these fish.
However, scientists predicted that this ecosystem would slowly disappear by mid-century as the multi-layered ice will become history and form the Last Ice Area that is only a meter thick. But if higher emissions continue by 2100, ice-dependent ecosystems will most likely vanish.
Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area Will Disappear by 2100
In the study titled “Defining the “Ice Shed” of the Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area and Its Future Evolution,” published in the journal Earth’s Future, researchers showed an optimistic and pessimistic view on what will happen when sea ice melts.
Phys.org reported that an optimistic view suggests that some summer sea ice could stay indefinitely if carbon emissions are reduced by 2050. However, the pessimistic view showed that summer sea ice would likely not survive the end of the century along with the ice-dependent creatures if emissions continue to rise.
Researchers predict that if the year-round sea ice disappears and the entire ice-dependent ecosystem collapses, something new will also begin.
Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area
World Wide Fund for Nature shared a map of the sea ice on the Arctic Ocean as projected for 2040 and beyond. The map shows a view from the north pole, demonstrating how the Arctic’s summer sea ice moves and changes.
The Last Ice Area is focused on which the map predicted that it would be the only remaining part where ice will be seen. It is located in Northeast Canada and Northern Greenland when the summer sea ice is gone.
The organization encourages everyone to safeguard this globally significant region as the last refuge for creatures that live on it, such as seals and polar bears, as the world warms.
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