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When will the Arctic be ice-free? scientists predict brink could be crossed within a decade

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Euronews or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Scientists predict that the Arctic could see its first ice-free day within the next few years, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder
• This event, expected more than a decade earlier than previously estimated, would occur when sea ice coverage falls below one million square kilometers

🔭 The context: The study, which analyzed sea ice projections and climate models, highlights the urgent need for emission cuts to mitigate this critical threshold's impact
• Although an ice-free Arctic seems inevitable, the frequency of such events heavily depends on future emissions levels

🌍 Why it matters for the planetThe decline in Arctic sea ice is accelerating due to greenhouse gas emissions, impacting local wildlife, such as polar bears and seals, and indigenous communities through increased coastal erosion
• It also contributes to global warming by reducing the Earth's albedo effect

⏭️ What's next: While an ice-free Arctic for a month or more is expected by mid-century under all emissions scenarios, reducing emissions could limit the period of ice-free conditions to late summer and early autumn
• Importantly, Arctic sea ice can recover quickly if atmospheric CO2 levels are reduced, highlighting the resilience of polar ecosystems and the importance of mitigating climate change

💬 One quote: "Even if ice-free conditions are unavoidable, we still need to keep our emissions as low as possible to avoid prolonged ice-free conditions," says Alexandra Jahn, associate professor at CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

📈 One stat: The Arctic Ocean had around 3.3 million square kilometers of sea ice at its minimum in September, a significant reduction from the 1980s.

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