What is it about?

The Arctic ice caps have been melting owing to global warming: satellite images and observations paint an alarming picture of decline in sea ice around the Arctic. A 2020 study now attempts to use mathematical equations and probability to predict future levels of Arctic sea ice and how extreme weather events will affect these levels. The researchers also deduce two tipping times: early-warning tipping time (the time required to transition from a permanent ice-cover to seasonal melting of ice), and the disaster-happening tipping time (the time required to transition from seasonal melting to a permanent ice-free state). These times are said to be warning times, giving an early indication of serious climate change in the Arctic. The researchers found that the intensity of extreme weather events correlated with these warning time before sea ice began to melt—a trend further enhanced by the greenhouse effect. Global warming and its effects shortened warning times significantly.

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Why is it important?

The Arctic is a delicately balanced ecosystem, and variations in Arctic ice caps, in turn, affect the global climate, which is why it is critical to predict Arctic ice levels and how they are affected by extreme weather events. Understanding the warning time for melting of Arctic sea ice gives us a timeframe for action so that we can control the effects of climate change. KEY TAKEAWAY: While active efforts are being made to mitigate global warming, predicting the future and effect of extreme weather events on Arctic sea ice levels is also important. These calculations help construct timelines for action and preparedness for further climate disasters.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The tipping times in an Arctic sea ice system under influence of extreme events, Chaos An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, June 2020, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0006626.
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