Study determines Arctic could be iceless in September if temperature increased by 2 degrees

A recent study led by the University of Cincinnati has observed that Artic sea ice could disappear completely through September each summer if the average global temperatures increased by even as little as 2 degrees.

According to the study, the Arctic Ocean would be completely ice-free in September with even a change of 2 degrees Celsius of temperature. With regards to the 2009 Paris Agreement, it was hence aimed to limit the warming to 2 degrees and to address the global problem of carbon emissions.

“Most likely, September Arctic sea ice will effectively disappear between approximately 2 and 2.5 degrees of global warming,” as quoted by the study. “Yet limiting the warming to 2 degrees (as proposed under the Paris agreement) may not be sufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic Ocean.”

Experts believe, during the month of September, the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean is the least during the year, especially after the short polar summer. The researchers specifically refer to September, since it is the transaction period between summer and winter in the Arctic. “Ice recedes from June to September and then in September it begins to grow again in a seasonal cycle. And we’re saying we could have no ice in September,” commented Won Chang, co-author and UC assistant professor of mathematics.

The study also draws attention to the fact that lesser the ice the Arctic has in the summer sea, the longer it will take for the Arctic Ocean to ice back over the period of the polar winter. This would have grave consequences on the Arctic wildlife such as polar bears and seals which rely primarily on the sea ice to raise their offspring and for hunting.

The new statistical method was applied by researchers to examine climate model projections in the 21st century. Moreover, it also helped them to determine with a 6% probability that the summer sea ice will disappear, on the basis of warming of 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial levels. With 2 degrees the likelihood could increase to 28%. This method in return provided with a new mathematical and statistical framework which helped to calculate the climate change.

“While we only tested the new approach on climate models, we are eager to see if the technique can be applied to other fields, such as stock market predictions, plane accident investigations, or in medical research,” commented Roman Olson. He is the lead author and researcher at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea.