Irreversible Antarctica: ‘No quick fix’, scientists claim

Scientists warned, it could take decades to recover from the mishap of climate change but immediate action is needed.
Shubhangi Dua
Depleting sea ice in the Antarctic will negatively impact its ecosystem
Depleting sea ice in the Antarctic will negatively impact its ecosystem

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images 

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study in June proclaimed that the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free for the first time by 2030s, irrespective of emission scenarios. 

A new study has shown that the sea ice in the Antarctic region fell to a record low this year due to rising global temperatures. There is no quick fix to reverse the damage done, scientists stressed.

Record ice plummet

The study concentrated on researching the impact of climate change on Antarctica, further uncovered that the continent’s minimum summer ice cover dropped to a new low in February. 

Reuters reported that last year, the ice cover dipped below two million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) for the first time since satellite monitoring began in 1978, according to a study published in the journal – Frontiers in Environmental Science.

Caroline Holmes, a polar climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey and one of the study's co-authors, stated during a press briefing: 

“It's going to take decades if not centuries for these things to recover. There's no quick fix to replacing this ice. It will certainly take a long time, even if it's possible.”

Severe impact

The Guardian reported earlier this morning that the new scientific warning suggests scientists are “virtually certain” that future events in Antarctica will be more severe than the extraordinary changes already observed.

The research highlighted the vulnerabilities of Antarctic systems, including the collapse of ice shelves and surface temperatures up to 38.5C above average over East Antarctica in 2022.

Recent empirical evidence concerning the Antarctic ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere, suggests an eventual rise in heatwave size and frequency, ice shelf collapses, and sea ice declines due to climate change.

Scientists have found it challenging to measure the exact impact of global warming on Antarctic ice's thickness. Martin Siegert, a glaciologist at the University of Exeter and another co-author, expresses that it is ‘scientifically reasonable’ to assume that extreme events will intensify as global temperatures rise.

Already, fluctuating sea ice levels have been observed, and Holmes said that the antarctic sea ice varies every year between February minimum and September maximum. 

“One clear metric of how things are changing is that the summer minimum has broken a new record three times in the past seven years,” she added.

Calling urgent action

Tim Naish, director of the Antarctic Research Centre at New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington, noted that this year’s sea ice minimum is 20 percent lower than the average over the last 40 years, amounting to a loss nearly 10 times the size of New Zealand.

Naish cautioned, “In some cases, we are getting close to tipping points, which once crossed will lead to irreversible changes with unstoppable consequences for future generations.”

“Antarctica is experiencing more and more extreme events,” Naish told The Guardian. “In some cases, we are getting dangerously close to tipping points, which once crossed will lead to irreversible change with unstoppable consequences for future generations.”