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We’ve reached another dangerous climate milestone: for the first time in recorded history, it’s late October and there is no Arctic in Siberia’s Laptev sea. The seasonal sea ice usually melts in the summer and reforms by this time. These ice-free waters put Arctic sea ice at its lowest point, with water temperatures 5 degrees Celsius above average.
Why This Matters: The lack of sea ice right now has plenty of knock-on effects. Any ice that freezes now won’t have as much time to thicken, meaning that it’ll melt more quickly next spring as temperatures rise again. And the Laptev Sea specifically is important because it’s the Arctic’s ice nursery: ice that forms here will float out and help other ice packs form. Without the nursery ice, other ice may not form either.
Less ice means higher seas, a disruption of polar ecosystems, and even faster warming with less of a white sheet of ice to reflect the sun’s heat.
“Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century,” Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University, told the Guardian.
A Global Meltdown: It’s not just the Siberian Arctic losing its sea ice. This summer, the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic collapsed. Glacier National Park in Montana now has fewer than 30 glaciers, a far cry from the estimated 150 when President Taft created the park not much more than 100 years ago.
As California’s drought conditions are worsening, Nestle is pumping millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest. State water officials have drafted a cease-and-desist order to force the company to stop overpumping from Strawberry Creek, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 people.
The ice-out date for Maine’s Lake Auburn is now three weeks earlier than it was two centuries ago, the Portland Press Herald reports, and other lakes across New England show similar trends. Climate change is not good for ice, and that includes Maine’s lakes that freeze over every winter.
Why This Matters: A disrupted winter with lakes that “defrost” earlier has multiple knock-on effects for freshwater: in addition to harming fish in lakes, the resulting large cyanobacteria algae blooms that form can be harmful to human health.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Drought conditions cover 85% of Mexico as lakes and reservoirs dry up across the country. Mexico City is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years, and the reservoirs and aquifers are so depleted that some residents don’t have tap water. The capital city relies on water pumped in from […]
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