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The slow transition of Arctic to be an ice-free zone

Inspite of the science of global warming now being a science that is validated by most scientists, and with dire warnings from an international council of scientists about the accelerated pace of global warming, the world leaders are caught up in a debate over who makes what change, over whether the economic impact is worth taking, and so on. There is also a tussle between the developed world and the developing world over who will take the required actions to reduce the growth in emissions, and in fact, reverse the increase in emissions. People now recognize that even if emissions are totally frozen, it will take time for a reduction in the trend of global warming.
The extent of re-freezing of Arctic ice is an indicator of conditions, and the indicator is not so good. The ice in the Arctic is now at the second lowest point ever, crossing the second lowest point set last in 2005. There is an increased amount of speculation that a few years in the future, we will see an ice-free Arctic. Typically, some melting of the ice happens in the summer months, and re-freezing happens in the winter months, but this year, the ice has started melting earlier than in previous years, so there is a strong possibility that the region with ice could be even smaller than last year, which was the record year:

Researchers say the Arctic is now at a climatic “tipping point”. “We could very well be in that quick slide downwards in terms of passing a tipping point,” said Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at the Colorado-based NSIDC. “It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now,” he told the Associated Press news agency. Last September, the ice covered just 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq miles), the smallest extent seen since satellite imaging began 30 years ago. The 1980 figure was 7.8 million sq km (3 million sq miles).
Irrespective of whether the 2007 record falls in the next few weeks, the long-term trend is obvious, scientists said; the ice is declining more sharply than even a decade ago, and the Arctic region will progressively turn to open water in summers. Globally, the Arctic melt will reinforce warming because open water absorbs more of the Sun’s energy than ice does.

There are people who are looking to see this open ice-free region as a place of increased economic opportunity, with the potential to drill for oil and gas, as well as to have a better shipping zone. However, this greater ice-free region will be a disaster globally, with it serving to increase the overall warmth of the earth’s oceans; and if this impacts the Antarctic or Greenland ice shelfs, then we will start seeing the rise in the waters worldwide.
In addition, this is called a tipping point because in the current scenario, the ice reflects sun light; however, as the ice melts, the open sea is far darker, and the water absorbs much more of this sunlight, causing the water to warm up more. As this continues to happen, there is a point where the warming water causes more ice to melt, and reaches a runaway point where the ice melt starts to become much more rapid. In the meantime, the debate over who will do what, and what the targets should be for ensuring that emissions stabilize and then start reducing is an ongoing debate, mired in geo-politics.

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