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Disappearance of Arctic Summer Sea Ice

At 1.5°C global warming, it is unlikely that Arctic sea ice will melt completely in any given summer; and if it does melt completely, that ice-free period will be brief. In contrast, by 2°C the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice free in summer for several months. This long ice-free period will warm the Arctic Ocean, feeding back to raise regional air temperatures and accelerating Greenland melt and associated sea level rise; increasing permafrost thaw and associated carbon emissions; and also leading to a decrease in snow cover. All of these will in turn make for faster rates and scale of overall global warming, making efforts to address the problem that much harder

Many parts of the Arctic ecosystem depend on the existence of thicker, multi-year sea ice. These will likely collapse with the complete disappearance of multi-year ice cover at 2.0°C global warming. This impact is amplified by our observation already today of more frequent ocean “heat waves.” Human communities are of course also impacted, especially Arctic indigenous cultures reliant on the reliable presence of sea ice for many thousands of years.

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