The planet Earth may have already passed a tipping point towards irreversible global warming, with consequences “cascading” from Greenland to the “Great Barrier Reef”, the head of the largest scientific expedition ever conducted to the North Pole warned last Tuesday.
“Only the study of the coming years will allow us to know if we can still save the Arctic ice floe, present all year round, thanks to climate protection, or if we have already crossed that point of no return”, said the German Markus Rex in Berlin, 8 months after the return from the international mission that spent a year in the Arctic.
For almost 1 year, international teams collected comprehensive data that should provide valuable information on climate change. “The disappearance of the summer ice pack in the Arctic is one of the first mines in this minefield, one of the first points of no return that is reached when we go too far in warming climate“, added the scientist in a press conference in Berlin, with the Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek.
“Start of the explosion”
In fact, “we can ask ourselves if we have not already walked on this mine and activated the beginning of the explosion”, estimated this climatologist and physicist, a leading scientist in the study of the Arctic.
If this irreversible point had been crossed, this could have consequences “in domino effect” for the planet, warned the scientist and “further aggravate warming with the disappearance of the Greenland ice cap or the thawing of large areas of the Arctic permafrost”.Ancient glaciers are also threatened. “Today we also do not know if we can save the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ in Australia“, he stressed.
Upon the return of the icebreaker ‘Polarstern’ from the German Alfred-Wegener Institute to its home port of Bremerhaven, in northwestern Germany, on October 12th, the head of the mission named MOSAIC had already warned about the threat that is hovering over the ice pack, claiming that it disappears at “dramatic speed”.
The retreat of the ice pack is considered by scientists as the “epicenter of the global warming,” according to Rex. At that time, he claimed to have seen in summer “large areas of liquid water almost up to the pole, surrounded by ice filled with holes due to a massive thaw”.
In past weeks, he said that the ice sheet had retreated “faster in spring 2020 than since the beginning of measurements” of the pack ice and that the extent of the ice during the summer was half that of decades ago.
“The last generation”
Ice pack specialist Stefanie Arndt lamented that “we may be the last generation to be able to see the Arctic with ice in summer.” This ice pack, she stressed, is “an important living space for polar bears”.
The experts collected more than 150 terabytes of data and more than a thousand ice samples. During its 389 days, the € 140 million (US$ 170 million) mission, led jointly by 20 countries, studied the atmosphere, ocean, ice sheet and ecosystem to gather data to assess the impact of climate change. in the region and in the world. Several hundred experts and scientists remained on the ship. The “Polarstern” sailed a total of 3,400 kilometers in a zigzag-like way.