After the biggest-ever expedition to the Arctic, scientists warn point of no return on global warming may have already been attained.
Global warning might have passed a lengthy tipping point, the scientist who led the biggest-ever expedition to the Arctic has warned.
Presenting the first findings of this world’s biggest assignment to the North Pole, an expedition between 300 scientists in 20 states, Markus Rex said on Tuesday that the researchers had discovered that Arctic ice is retreating faster than ever before.
The disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is among the initial landmines within this minefield, one of the tipping things that we put off first if we push heating too much,” he explained during the presentation from Germany’s capital, Berlin.
“And you can basically inquire if we have not already stepped on this mine and set off the start of the explosion”
The $165m expedition returned to Germany in October after 389 days drifting through the Arctic, bringing home devastating proof of a dying Arctic Ocean and warnings of ice-free summers in just decades. It also brought back 150 terabytes of data and more than 1,000 ice samples.
The data collected during the expedition included readings on the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and ecosystems.
Rex said scientists found that the Arctic Ocean ice had retreated “faster in the spring of 2020 than since the beginning of records” and that “the spread of the sea ice in the summer was only half as large as decades ago.”
The ice was only half as thick and temperatures measured 10 degrees higher than during the Fram expedition undertaken by explorers and scientists Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen in the 1890s.
Because of the smaller sea ice surface, the ocean was able to absorb more heat in the summer, in turn meaning that ice sheet formation in the autumn was slower than usual.