Why the melting of the Arctic ice matters to India
- We are losing Arctic
seaice at a rate of nearly 13% per decade, and the oldest and thickest icein the Arctichas declined by an astounding 95% in the last 30 years.
- A study by researchers at the Finnish Meteorological Institute has concluded that the Arctic is heating four times faster than the rest of the planet.
- The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report from the World Meteorological Organisation indicates that the sea levels are rising faster than average along almost the entire Indian coast.
AdvertisementThe polar ice caps are melting due to climate change caused by global warming. We are losing Arctic sea ice at a rate of nearly 13% per decade, and the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by an astounding 95% in the last 30 years, as per NASA climate change.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer by 2040, according to the World Economic Forum. However, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Globally, sea ice loss has far-reaching consequences, causing tsunamis, increase in sea level, storms etc.
Global warming has also made Antarctic glaciers critically unstable, as they are approaching a point where it would be impossible to stop or reverse their flow into the sea and cause a 50 cm sea level rise worldwide, according to a NASA-funded study.
Experts say that if there is still any doubt about the reality of climate change, one needs to look no further than the planet's coldest regions for proof that the Earth is warming at unprecedented rates.
The Arctic is heating up, fast
According to a study by researchers at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, published in the Communications Earth & Environment journal, the Arctic is heating four times faster than the rest of the planet.
According to experts, the mass melting of sea ice, permafrost and ice caps in the Arctic – widely regarded by polar scientists as the Earth's refrigerator due to its role in regulating global temperatures – is hard evidence of global warming.
The Arctic has experienced two to four times faster temperature increases than the rest of the world over the past four decades. The Arctic amplification – a phenomenon where the Arctic warms up faster than the rest of the planet due to temperature differences in the poles – occurs when white sea ice thins or disappears, allowing dark ocean or land surfaces to absorb more heat from the sun and release that energy back into the atmosphere.
Impact on India
The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), published in May this year indicates that sea levels are rising faster than average along almost the entire Indian coast.
The global rate of sea level rise between 2013 and 2021 was 4.5 millimetres annually. This rate was more than twice as high as witnessed between 1993 and 2002.
The rapid melting of ice from the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic is the leading cause of rising sea levels. The levels have risen despite the occurrence of the La Niña phenomenon – where rainfall is diverted to land, thereby lowering the sea level – in 2021.
Images from the Landsat satellite operated by United States’ NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) show that sea levels have been rising in the Sunderbans delta for the past 20 years at the rate of 30 mm per year, with a 12% loss in the shoreline.
This is more than six times the average level for the world, and it has already resulted in the eviction of about 1.5 million residents of the delta.
The rise in sea levels and intense cyclones will make places like the Sundarbans uninhabitable, leading to a massive inland migration of people and other socio-economic issues if global warming is not kept below the 1.5°C mark as agreed to by countries under the Paris Agreement.
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