Parts of the Arctic sea ice are thinning up to twice as fast as previously thought, according to a new study, which means parts of the region could become ice-free by 2040.
The results will raise further concerns about the climate change as well as potential increases in extreme weather and flooding in coastal regions of the world.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) used data from a European Space Agency satellite to analyze changes in the Arctic sea ice, which is frozen seawater floating on the surface of the ocean.
Robbie Mallett, a doctoral student at UCL Earth Sciences and lead author of the study, said previous calculations of sea ice thickness were out of date.
“Because sea ice has started to form later and later in the year, the snow on top has less time to accumulate,” he said.
“Our calculations take into account this decreasing snow depth for the first time and suggest that the sea ice is thinning faster than we thought.”
The researchers also looked at the impact the changes could have on indigenous communities living in the northernmost part of the world.
“The thinning of fast ice is also of concern to indigenous communities, as it leaves settlements on the coast increasingly exposed to severe weather and wave action from the emerging ocean,” said Mr. Mallett.
The Arctic, as well as Antarctica, are sometimes known as the refrigerator of the world, with white snow and ice in the region reflecting heat back into space, while other parts of the planet continue to ‘absorb heat.
Recent research articles have also explored how changing conditions there impacted the weather here in Britain.
Results earlier this year by scientists at the University of Oulu in Finland concluded that the loss of ice in the Barents Sea, which is part of the Arctic, has helped fuel the Beast from the East. , a period of severe weather in Britain between February and March 2018 that caused billions of pounds in disruption.
They found that the extreme weather conditions were triggered by a polar vortex of cold, low-pressure air, causing heavy snowfall over northern Europe.
Professor Alun Hubbard, one of the scientists involved in this project, believes more may be on the way.
“Looks like the Arctic is a long way from the UK, it really isn’t,” he said.
“The problem is, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.
“If the Arctic stops absorbing this heat, it means problems, it means all of our weather systems are going to change.”
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