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14 March 2017

By 2091 Arctic Rain Will Be More Common Than Arctic Snow

Snow – beautiful, evocative, landscape-changing, and very picky. To say the climactic conditions necessary for snowfall are specific would be a bit of an understatement. The temperature must be below freezing both in the clouds and at ground level, but it can’t be too cold or the air will be too dry. There’s a ‘sweet spot’ where snowfall is most likely, both in terms of temperature and air pressure. As climate change continues to warp our weather patterns, that sweet spot is getting harder to hit.

This doesn’t mean a decrease in precipitation, but rather that we’ll soon be seeing far more rain than snow, even in the Arctic. By 2091, it’s estimated that there will be a 50-60% increase in Arctic rain, across the entire continent. This is mainly due to the on-going reduction in sea ice.

More open water means more evaporation, which in turn means more precipitation. This will usher in a vicious cycle, as the climate continues to warm, it will rain more, and more ice will be melted off. The retreat of sea ice is already an established trend, but increases in Arctic rainfall (which is currently almost non-existent) could make the whole process move much faster.

Snow and ice also reflect sunlight, and in the absence of this, more will be absorbed into the land and sea, further warming the planet. The salinity of seawater will also be disrupted, which could kill off untold numbers of sea animals, upsetting the natural balance further still. Within just over a century, it might be possible to get to the North Pole by boat. Think about that for a second.

If we don’t take further action now than any slim chance of reversing this process will be gone, and all we will be able to do is brace ourselves for the death of the Arctic. Every year, researchers are uncovering new information about the ramifications of climate change, and the increase in rainfall is yet another chapter in this sad tale.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.