After the ice goes

Researchers look into the future of the far North for clues to save species and maybe even bring back sea ice.

As the Arctic slipped into the half-darkness of autumn last year, it seemed to enter the Twilight Zone. In the span of a few months, all manner of strange things happened.

The cap of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean started to shrink when it should have been growing. Temperatures at the North Pole soared more than 20 °C above normal at times. And polar bears prowling the shorelines of Hudson Bay had a record number of run-ins with people while waiting for the water to freeze over.

It was a stark illustration of just how quickly climate change is reshaping the far north. And if last autumn was bizarre, it’s the summers that have really got scientists worried. As early as 2030, researchers say, the Arctic Ocean could lose essentially all of its ice during the warmest months of the year — a radical transformation that would upend Arctic ecosystems and disrupt many northern communities.

Read the full story in Nature.

1024px-walrus_cows_and_bulls_resting_on_sea_ice
Walrus and other ice-dependent species must adapt to the dramatic changes taking place in the Arctic. (Credit: Brad Benter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons)
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