Arctic sea ice likely to vanish in summers even if Paris accord target met: Study

The Paris accord aims to keep average global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. The NCC report said Arctic sea ice would certainly not melt if the temperature rise was limited to 1.5C. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Oslo, Norway Mar 06, 2017, 06.25 PM (IST)

Arctic sea ice is likely to vanish during summers even if all the nations that have signed the Paris Agreement accord meet their targets, a study has said.

Almost 200 nations that signed the Paris climate accord have pledged to limit average global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit); they aspire to keep the rise to less than 1.5C (2.7F).

James Screen and Daniel Williamson of Exeter University in Britain wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change that Arctic sea ice would melt during summertime even if the rise is limited to 2C.

They said there was a 39 per cent chance of Arctic sea ice melting if the rise in average global temperature was limited to just 2 degrees Celsius.

Ice was virtually certain to survive, however, with just 1.5C of warming.

In March 2017, the extent of Arctic sea ice is rivalling 2016 and 2015 as the smallest for the time of year since satellite records began in the late 1970s. The ice reaches a winter maximum in March and a summer minimum in September.

"In less than 40 years, we have almost halved the summer sea ice cover," said Tor Eldevik a professor at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen in Norway, who was not involved in the study.

He predicted that sea ice would vanish in the Arctic Ocean in about another 40 years, on current trends.

Scientists define an ice-free Arctic Ocean as one with less than 1 million square kilometres (386,000 square miles) of ice because they say some sea ice will linger in bays, such as off northern Greenland, even after the ocean is ice-free.

US President Donald Trump said during his 2016 election campaign that he would "cancel" the Paris Agreement and instead promote the domestic fossil fuel industry. He has since said he has an "open mind" on the subject.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)