Scientists have warned that the Arctic Sea could be “free of ice” by the end of 2040 because of global warming.

Earlier, scientists claimed that there would be no ice in the Arctic Sea in 2070. However, a new research has revealed that the Arctic Sea has been thawing at a rapid pace for the last 30 years, making the ice to fall by more than half. Ninety scientists, who recently conducted the evaluation as a part of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, have clearly mentioned in their report that we should not underestimate the melting of the Arctic Sea. According to them, the northern region has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the world for the last five decades.

Scientists further claimed that snow cover in the Arctic region significantly decreased during this period. Meanwhile, they urged the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the region from negative effects of climate change, saying that the melting of glaciers in the Arctic not only triggered droughts, floods and heat waves in different parts of the world, but also affected the ocean currents and winds. The sudden changes in ocean currents and winds have affected the monsoon across the world, thus, affecting food production and cropping patterns. They warned that it might cause sea level to rise and affect the coastal cities.

Scientists further urged the global community to cut the production of carbon dioxide, which warms up the environment. Earlier, NASA had said that the volume of sea ice loss in the Arctic was (on an average) 8,300 square miles per year between 1976 and 1996. However, the volume increased to 19,500 square miles per year between 1996 and 2013.

Interestingly, the disappearance of glaciers will have some advantages, as it will allow shipping companies to find new sea routes. In that case, Panama and Suez canals will be completely unnecessary and the route from Asia to Europe will pass through the Northern Sea.

Meanwhile, senior planetary scientist at Arizona State University (ASU) Steven Desch has proposed a massive scheme to add more ice to the Arctic, stressing that the proposed move will help slow rising global temperature. Professor Desch said that it would cost American taxpayers USD 500 billion over 10 years.

Sid Perkins, a freelance science writer based in Crossville, has welcomed Desch’s plan to save the world. He said that we should accept the ASU professor’s proposal, as thicker ice in the Arctic would trap more heat and help bring the global temperature down. In an article published in the May 2017 edition of ‘Science News’ magazine, Perkins wrote: “Ice is a good insulator, says Steven Desch. That’s why moons, such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus (among others), may be able to maintain liquid oceans beneath their thick icy surfaces. On Earth, sea ice is much thinner, but the physics is the same. Ice grows on the bottom surface of floating floes. As the water freezes, it releases heat that must make its way up through the ice before escaping into the air. The thicker the ice, the more heat gets trapped, which slows down ice formation. That’s bad news for the Arctic, where ice helps keep the planet cool, but global warming is causing ice to melt faster than it can be replaced.”

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]