The Guardian reported that Artic scientists have found that accelerated melting of the ice cap is likely to cause 19 “tipping points” there that may lead to global catastrophe.
Temperatures in the Artic are now 20°C above the norm for this time of year. The Artic warming could affect as far away as the Indian Ocean. A climate tipping point when a system like the polar ice cap is subject to extreme change that deeply affects the surrounding ecosystems, that can not be reversed.
In the Arctic, the tipping points identified in the new report, published on Friday, include: growth in vegetation on tundra, which replaces reflective snow and ice with darker vegetation, thus absorbing more heat; higher releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the tundra as it warms; shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean, resulting in altered climate patterns as far away as Asia, where the monsoon could be effected; and the collapse of some key Arctic fisheries, with knock-on effects on ocean ecosystems around the globe. – Fiona Harvey, The Guardian
Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute has stated that the possibilities of triggering tipping points appear increasingly more imminent, “The warning signals are getting louder”.
This week it was announced by the team of US president-elect Donald Trump that funding into climate change science will be rerouted to space exploration. In response Mr Carson stated:
“That would be a huge mistake…These are very serious problems, very serious changes are happening, but they are still poorly understood. We need more research to understand them. A lot of the major science is done by the US.”
Reducing greenhouse emissions may be impossible if these tipping points are triggered. Communities living within the Artic areas have noted changes already in progress. The first refugees of climatic change and disaster have already existed in other regions and survival for the communities settled in the Artic region may prove to be a challenge.