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Research warns that ice loss will trigger an increase in temperature in a vicious feedback loop



According to Tuesday’s research, the billions of tons of ice lost to the Earth’s frozen space may raise the global temperature by another 0.4 degrees Celsius, which highlights the danger of a “vicious circle” of warming.

Since the late 1970s, Arctic summer sea ice levels have fallen by more than 10% every ten years, and mountain glaciers have lost approximately 250 billion tons of ice each year in the last century.

The loss of ice from the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is accelerating and has surpassed melting scenarios that scientists had not considered the worst-case scenario until recently.

Decades of research have attempted to quantify how the Earth’s melting ice will contribute to sea level rise-Antarctica and Greenland alone contain enough frozen water to increase the ocean height by about 60 meters (nearly 200 feet).

However, few studies have attempted to predict how the loss of ice since the beginning of the industrial age will increase the 1

.0 degree Celsius global warming that fossil fuels have caused.

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany used a climate model that includes components from atmospheric, ocean, sea ice and land ice data to predict temperature changes caused by ice loss under various emission scenarios.

They found that under current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (about 400 parts per million), the melting of Arctic sea ice, alpine glaciers and polar ice caps will raise the temperature by 0.4C.

Not only that, our current emission level has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is almost inevitable, and the Paris climate agreement aims to set a safer upper limit for global warming.

The main driving force for the increase in temperature caused by ice loss is due to a process called albedo feedback, in which the heat-reflective bright ice is replaced by more absorbent seawater and/or soil.

Lead author Nico Wendlin said: “If the global ice mass shrinks, this will change the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth’s surface and reflecting back into space.”

He compared the albedo effect to wearing white or black clothes in summer.

Wunderling pointed out: “If you wear dark clothes, you are more likely to get fever.”

This is one of the so-called “feedback loops” of the Earth’s climate, in which an increase in temperature will cause further loss of ice, which in turn will further increase the temperature.

Tipping point

The authors of the study said that as the ice fades, other ways to increase the temperature further include increasing water vapor in the atmosphere and increasing the greenhouse effect. Nature Communications.

Just look at the Arctic sea ice-unlike the polar ice cap, the Arctic sea ice may disappear completely in the summer of decades, and they found that the melting of ice only contributed 0.2C to the global temperature.

In contrast, the largest ice blocks in Greenland and West Antarctica are large, and even if emissions continue to increase at an unabated rate, it may take several centuries to melt completely.

However, the authors emphasized that as the temperature continues to rise, huge frozen water bodies will soon reach the risk of no return point.

Considering the unknowns surrounding the tipping point of the ice sheet, Wunderling told AFP that it is best to act in a “risk-averse” manner and try to reduce emissions as soon as possible.

He said: “As global warming continues, it is more and more likely that we will cross the tipping point, not only on the ice sheet, but also in other parts of the climate system.”

“If the “Paris Agreement” is implemented, we can avoid many of the strongest and potentially irreversible effects on the ice on the earth, the global climate and humans.”

©AFP


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