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7 March 2017

Climate Goals of Paris Agreement are Insufficient to Prevent Loss of Arctic Sea Ice, Study Claims


Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, almost 200 nations agreed to a climate goal of limiting the rise of average global temperatures to less than 2°C above pre-industrial times, with an aspiration of as little as 1.5°C. This was deemed necessary in order to prevent the complete loss of Arctic sea ice in the summer months, or so they thought; a new study has now claimed that even if governments were to reach this target, it may prove to be severely lacking, resulting in ice-free Arctic summers within the century.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, James Screen and Daniel Williamson of Exeter University assert that, “The 2 degrees Celsius target may be insufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic,” resulting in a 39% chance that the ice would disappear entirely from the Arctic Ocean during summer months. If the aspirational target of 1.5°C was achieved however, the ice would be “virtually certain” to survive.

Worryingly, they also estimated that the actual rise in average global temperatures based on currents trends would be nearer to 3°C, giving the ice a 79% chance of disappearing during summer. They called on governments to make more drastic cuts to emissions than those outlined in their currents plans if this fate is to be avoided.

Screen and Williamson are far from being the only scientists to share their concerns over the eventual fate of the Arctic, with Professor Tor Eldevik of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen in Norway acknowledging that, “In less than 40 years, we have almost halved the summer sea ice cover.” He further predicted that sea ice would completely vanish from the Arctic Ocean within 40 years if current trends continue.

In regards to the Arctic Ocean, ‘ice-free’ is defined by scientists as containing less than 1million square kilometres (386,000 square miles) of ice, as some sea ice will still linger in bays around Northern Greenland and other such areas.


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.