Arctic ice melt has global-warming impact equal to 20 years of CO2 emissions
Remember when you learned about colors and how white reflects light whereas black absorbs it? You know, then the teacher suggested that maybe the reason you were so hot during recess was your black, long-sleeved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt, but you wanted to wear that shirt because you were totally into Donatello until you learned he was some Italian artist?
You know what’s white? Arctic ice.
The loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, ice scientist Professor Peter Wadhams has told BBC Newsnight.
White ice reflects more sunlight than open water, acting like a parasol.
Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption.
Prof Wadhams calculates this absorption of the sun’s rays is having an effect “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.
This is what the ice cap looked like, as of yesterday. That orange line was the median coverage back when people knew what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were.
“Thirty years ago there was typically about eight million square kilometres of ice left in the Arctic in the summer, and by 2007 that had halved, it had gone down to about four million, and this year it has gone down below that,” Prof Wadhams said.And the volume of ice has dropped, with the ice getting thinner:
“The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and that’s really the prelude to this final collapse,” Prof Wadhams said.
Parts of the Arctic Ocean are now as warm in summer as the North Sea is in winter, Prof Wadhams said.
The North Sea, which lies to the east of Britain, does not freeze over.
Get Grist in your inbox