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Scientist who led largest Arctic mission says global warming may have reached irreversible tipping point

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The scientist who led the largest research expedition ever to the Arctic has suggested that the tipping point of irreversible global warming may already be reached.

Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric physicist, made the comments earlier this week as he presented the first results of the North Pole expedition that involved 442 experts from 20 countries.

“The disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic is one of the first landmines in this minefield, one of the tipping points we first trigger when we push warming too far,” said Dr Rex. AFP.

“And one can basically wonder if we haven’t already walked on this mine and already triggered the start of the explosion.”

The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate – or “MOSAiC” expedition – lasted 389 days and collected data on the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and ecosystems. The objective was to assess the impact of the climate crisis on the Arctic region and more generally on the world.

Among the first findings, Dr Rex said the team found that the Arctic sea ice had retreated “faster in the spring of 2020 than since the records began” and that “the spread of sea ice in summer was not than half the size of decades “. since”.

He added: “Only evaluation over the next few years will allow us to determine whether we can still save the Arctic sea ice year round through vigorous climate protection or whether we have already passed this important tipping point in the system. climate.

Man-made global warming is warming the world’s oceans and increasing the rate of melting of Arctic sea ice. White ice will reflect sunlight, so when the dark ocean is exposed, it will absorb even more sunlight, causing more heating.

In the summer of 2020, the ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to its second lowest level on record, according to US scientists, due to a combination of global warming and natural forces.

The extent of the ice-covered ocean at the North Pole and extending further south to Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia hit a summer low of 1.4 million square miles last September. Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest point in September and its maximum in March.

He was only a finalist in 2012 when the ice shrank to 1.3 million m² (3.4 million km²), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which has kept satellite records since 1979.

In the 1980s, ice cover was approximately 1 million m² (2.7 million km2) greater than current summer levels.

Last year scientists said The independent who claims the world is “doomed” can be detrimental to global efforts to tackle the climate crisis, and that it was important to understand that it was not too late to act.

Leo Barasi, author of Climate Majority, said: “Claims that the world is irreversibly doomed to uncontrollable warming, and no reduction in emissions can help us, can still find an audience, as can claims that change climate has nothing to fear. But these claims are usually based on studies or outlier data that have been taken out of context and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

“Telling the world that we are doomed, when it is not supported by evidence, is irresponsible and unlikely to motivate the urgent action that can still prevent disastrous warming. “

AP contributed to this report


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