The National Centre of Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) recently found the largest decline in the Arctic Sea ice as seen in last 41 years due to global warming in July 2019.
Between 1979 and 2018, NCPOR noted that the sea ice has seen a declination at a rate of -4.7 per cent per decade while its rate in July 2019 was found to be -13 per cent.
Sea ice is basically frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface. It forms in each hemisphere’s winter of both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The ice retreats in the summer. However, it does not completely disappear.
The Research has clarified that if this trend continues, there would be no ice left by 2050 in the Arctic sea since the volume of ice loss during summers might surpass the volume of the same formed during winters. This rapid decline in Arctic sea ice cover has been linked with growing carbon emissions and subsequent global warming.
The Impacts of Declining Arctic Sea ice cover can be huge. It would have an influence on regional weather as the decline of sea ice may impact the evaporation rates, cloud cover, air humility and rainfall of neighbouring regions.
The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) was established in 1998 as an autonomous Research and Development Institution under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The objective was to primarily carry out research activities in the polar and Southern Ocean realms.
It is also responsible for maintenance of the Indian stations in Arctic (Himadri) and Antarctica (Maitri & Bharati).
In recent times, the high temperatures that have been recorded in the Siberian region have caused a prolonged heatwave that has been ascribed to the absence of sea ice among other factors.
Loss of habitat for seals and polar bears have also increased resulting encounters between polar bears and humans. As the sea ice retreats from coastlines, wind-driven waves combined with melting permafrost may also lead to more rapid coastal erosion.
In the Arctic region, the ocean circulation is driven by the sinking of dense and salty water. Fresh meltwater coming largely from the Greenland Ice Sheet could furthermore interfere with ocean circulation at high latitudes, ultimately slowing it down. Any changes in ocean circulations can have unpredictable global impacts even in lower latitudes such as extreme weather events, droughts etc.
It is a result from the positive feedback cycle known as the ice-albedo feedback states that sea ice has higher albedo than ocean water. Once sea ice begins to melt, a self-reinforcing cycle often begins whereby as more ice melts and exposes more dark water. Then the water absorbs more sunlight and the sun-warm water then melts more ice.
On concluding, Arctic sea ice is part of a complex global system, and as a result it affects communities at all latitudes. The loss of Arctic sea ice has to be slowed down existentially by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and also by conserving other natural resources that have global impacts. The world needs to come together as one.