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Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level

Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting could trigger polar tipping points with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean

Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 tipping points in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.

The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as off the charts. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

The warning signals are getting louder, said Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of the report. [These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.

Arctic sea ice extent graph

Climate tipping points occur when a natural system, such as the polar ice cap, undergoes sudden or overwhelming change that has a profound effect on surrounding ecosystems, often irreversible.

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Joel Clement, co-chair of the project and director of the office of policy analysis at the US Department of the Interior, said: This groundbreaking report is an unprecedented effort to gain insight from what is happening on the ground. The findings are foundational to a more informed, coordinated response to building resilience across the region.

 

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/25/arctic-ice-melt-trigger-uncontrollable-climate-change-global-level