How will Alaska change by 2050

Arctic without ice?

2020 will go down in the history of the melting Arctic as another disaster year. Experts report a dramatic record: Arctic ice has reached the second lowest level in 42 years - only in 2012 was less ice measured in summer. Even pessimistic forecasts about the development of the Arctic pack ice now have to be corrected: The ice is melting so quickly that the North Pole is expected to be completely free of ice in the summer of 2050, rather than 2050.

In mid-September, the ice surface was only 3.8 million square kilometers and was only 0.5 million square kilometers above the negative record from 2012.

Another “hot disaster year” for the Arctic ecosystems

Second worst Arctic summer

In June, the new record temperature of 38.5 degrees Celsius was measured in the Siberian Verkhovyansk. It has never been so hot since the measurements north of the Arctic Circle! The global warming is to blame. Nowhere does the earth warm up as quickly as in the Arctic. While the average temperature on earth has increased by one degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, it has already become five degrees warmer in the Arctic.If the pack ice disappears, it will not only have dramatic consequences for the four million people and the fragile ecosystem in the Arctic, but also for all of us.

The ice is melting faster and faster

Climate researchers are already observing the so-called feedback effect inside around the North Pole: white surfaces made of snow and ice that reflect sunlight are decreasing. The fewer such surfaces there are, the more heat is stored by the dark water surface, which in turn accelerates the melting of the ice. At the same time it is getting warmer and faster. Not just in the Arctic, but all over the world.

The Arctic is still the largest contiguous and least inhabited region on our planet. In this highly sensitive ecosystem live animal and plant species whose rhythms of life are precisely tailored to the extreme conditions and which react sensitively to this serious change. People have been using the ice as a means of transport for thousands of years and live in houses that stand on permafrost. polar bears hunt seals from the ice. Reindeer cross icy rivers on their way to their feeding grounds.

The last refuges in the Arctic

But the habitat and living conditions in the Arctic are changing at a dramatic rate. Greenland alone loses 278 gigatons of ice each year. This corresponds roughly to the weight of 50,000 large Giza pyramids. Already in two decades will Northern Canada and North Greenland probably the last refuges for a permanent life on and with the ice.

The ice is not only getting less and less, it is also getting less and less faster and faster.

The alarming situation in the Arctic

Rising sea levels also with us

The melting of the ice could have catastrophic consequences for more than a billion people in the coastal regions as early as 2050, predicts the UN special report from September 2019. All over the world people will have to leave their homes due to rising sea levels. Also in the North Sea are islands and Halligen threatened by it. It is questionable how long dykes built higher and higher can hold off the more frequent and more extreme storm surges.

Thawing permafrost soils and eroding coasts threaten entire settlements in the polar regions. Port Heiden, Alaska, for example, loses 18 meters of coastline every year. It had to be given up in 2008 and its residents relocated.

Also changed precipitation patterns, more frequent storms and extreme weather are Consequences of the Arctic Ice Meltthat can already be felt all over the world. Fish change due to changed sea temperatures and currents their migration behavior. Whole stocks could collapse and ours too Threaten basic food.

Endless greed for oil and gas

At the same time, suddenly Sea routes that were previously blocked by the ice. Shipping traffic in formerly untouched areas is already increasing today and can disturb the sensitive animal world. The temptation to be undiscovered here under the sea Natural resources exploiting is high. The USA announced in spring 2020 that it would enable the search for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. Even a supposedly progressive country like Norway in terms of climate issues decided in June 2020 that oil and gas companies may search for fossil resources in the sensitive Barents Sea. A slap in the face of everyone who is fighting for compliance with the Paris Agreement and the protection of the Arctic.

It is all the more urgent for us to act now to limit global heating to below 2 degrees or, even better, below 1.5 degrees. To do this, the world must have reached net zero by 2050 at the latest. This means that only as many greenhouse gases may then be emitted as can be broken down again.

Until we achieve this goal, the Arctic sea ice will inevitably continue to shrink. Only with a joint effort can we protect the last ice areas in northern Canada and northern Greenland so that they remain a home for people and nature who depend on life with the ice.

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    The Arctic is one of the least developed areas on earth - shaped by a highly sensitive ecosystem. Continue reading ...