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Arctic may have passed point of no return says leading expert

THE ARCTIC may have passed the point of no return in terms of its melting ice caps, according to a leading scientist who has issued a stark warning to the planet.

The Arctic plays a major role in regulating Earth’s climate – but it may have passed the tipping point, a top expert has warned. The icy north pole helps to freeze up water in the south pole which for one keeps sea levels steady.

However, it does play a more important role for the world.

The white ice sheets which cover the continent help to reflect solar rays and heat into space.

This allows Earth’s climate to stay relatively cool, and without it, temperatures could spiral out of control.

This is because as the snow and ice melt, the darker ground beneath the freezing surface absorbs more sunlight.

Arctic may have passed point of no return says leading expert

The Arctic is melting at an alarming rate

However, the scientist who led the world’s largest-ever expedition to the Arctic claims melting ice in the world’s northernmost region may have passed the tipping point.

Once it passes the tipping point, the seasonal sea ice might not recover.

In 2020, Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany led 200 scientists on a year-long expedition to the Arctic.

Experts got a chance to see the devastation that the warming globe has had on the Arctic first hand – and the results do not look good.

Ice is retreating in Greenland

In a summary of the findings to AFP, Dr Rex said Arctic sea ice had retreated “faster in the spring of 2020 than since the beginning of records” and that “the spread of the sea ice in the summer was only half as large as decades ago”.

According to their findings, the ice was half as thick and temperatures measured 10 degrees Celsius higher than expeditions taken in the 1890s.

Because there was less surface ice, the sea was able to absorb more heat leading to record-breaking summers in the north pole.

Dr Rex said: “The disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is one of the first landmines in this minefield, one of the tipping points that we set off first when we push warming too far.

“And one can essentially ask if we haven’t already stepped on this mine and already set off the beginning of the explosion.

The poles are melting

“Only evaluation in the coming years will allow us to determine if we can still save the year-round Arctic sea ice through forceful climate protection or whether we have already passed this important tipping point in the climate system.”

The Arctic has been undergoing a huge transformation due to climate change, with Greenland being one of the worst affected areas.

The ice sheets over Greenland are almost three kilometres thick – but it has been melting rapidly.

If all of it were to melt, it could cause a seven-metre sea level rise, which would have huge implications for the world, especially the UK.

Google’s interactive sea level map Firetree shows that a sea-level rise of more than two metres could permanently submerge large parts of the British coastline with the likes of Hull, Peterborough, Portsmouth and parts of East London and the Thames Estuary all under threat.