Some Arctic summers will likely be ice-free even with reduced CO2

A new study has warned that the Arctic is likely to be ice-free during the summer months due to climate change, something that would only be partially prevented if humanity rapidly reduces the amount of CO2 emissions. The loss of ice during the summer months would be, according to the team behind the study, devasting for the local ecosystem, including animals like seals and polar bears.

At this point in time, the Arctic region is covered with ice all year, but a warming climate is causing increased ice melt. This ice is the habitat of creatures like polar bears, which are dependent on the ice cover for survival. As it melts, these animals face a disrupted environment, starvation, and other problems.

The ice will disappear during summers in the Arctic before 2050, according to a new study out of McGill University and 20 other institutions, which found that these ice-free years may only be an occasional thing...if humans curb CO2 emissions aggressively. The research involved 40 climate models.

According to the study, models that involved rapidly reduced levels of CO2 emissions still showed that some Arctic summers will be ice-free, indicating that it is too late to prevent this consequence of climate change. However, aggressive efforts to reduce emissions will help ensure that every summer isn't ice-free in this region.

These emissions were found to play a huge role in lost Arctic ice cover. Higher CO2 emissions would result in the majority of years experiencing ice-free summers. Study co-author Bruno Tremblay said, 'While the Arctic sea-ice extent is decreasing during this transition to an ice-free Arctic, the year-to-year variability in extent greatly increases, making life more difficult for local populations and ice-dependent species.'