Arctic ice is melting faster than anyone expected, with scientists forecasting the ice could disappear within 20 years.
The ice loss is accelerating as the Arctic warms and the ocean absorbs more heat, leading to a slower melt rate.
“We’re at the tipping point, and we need to brace ourselves for this moment,” said Adam Tarr, a professor at Stanford University and the lead author of a new study.
“It’s going to be catastrophic.”
Read more at theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/01/scientists-are-watching-the-arctic-melting-in-the dark The melting is causing the ocean to sink faster, but that doesn’t mean the ice is disappearing entirely.
“This isn’t just going to go away,” Tarr said.
Instead, the ice will start to slowly shrink, eventually disappearing entirely in 20 years, according to the study.
But it won’t be that easy.
Scientists are worried the ocean may have already warmed enough to melt ice more quickly.
“If we keep warming at this rate, the oceans will reach a point where they can’t hold back,” TARR said.
That’s because sea level is rising and melting ice will expand faster than it is shrinking.
It’s a similar story for Antarctica, where melting ice is already taking place.
The polar ice caps have already been melting more than 10 percent faster than they did before the Industrial Revolution, according the United Nations.
The new study found that Antarctic ice loss accelerated by 30 percent during the past 40 years, the first time the rate has been higher than in the last 500 years.
But as the ice melts faster than predicted, the world is already heading toward a tipping point.
“That’s when you really start to see how bad things could get,” TBR said.
“At that point, you’re looking at the entire Arctic melting away.”
The study used a climate model to simulate the Antarctic ice cap over the next 50 years, looking at ice extent and thickness, and predicted the ice would be “barely perceptible” by 2061.
TBR noted that it’s likely we will be looking back on the Antarctic Ice Cap 20 years from now with the same perspective.
“The world will be in a very different place,” he said.
The Arctic is already melting faster, and it’s going faster than many of us expected.
But there’s a way to slow the process.
The scientists suggest using new technologies to slow down the melting and prevent the ocean from absorbing heat.
A few years ago, TBR used an automated satellite to observe the Antarctic.
When he zoomed in on a glacier, the view looked like a virtual “3D virtual reality” movie.
But this time, TFRO used a computer-generated animation.
The images were produced from thousands of data points, and each pixel is represented by a dot.
“Each pixel represents one meter,” TFRo said.
This creates a sort of digital “black hole” effect.
“When you zoom in on one pixel, it gives you an idea of the amount of heat that the ocean is absorbing,” he added.
The researchers also looked at ice cores that were collected during the Ice Age, which lasted roughly 8,000 years.
They found that melting accelerated by 10 percent, and that the ice covered more than half the Earth’s land surface in the past 500 years, far more than scientists had predicted.
The pace of Arctic ice loss has also slowed over the past few years.
“What we’ve seen in the recent years is that the rate of ice loss slowed down,” TSR said.
There was also a major slowdown in the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which had already reached the tipping stage in the late 1990s.
The authors say that will make the sea ice in the Arctic less stable as the ocean takes up more of the heat from the melting.
But that doesn and can’t stop the melting from continuing.
“Somebody’s going, ‘OK, we’ve done this before.
It’ll just get worse,'” TBR predicted.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future.”