Polar bear mom and cub on melting sea ice

This salty, frozen seascape is essential to their future … and our own. A new IPCC Special Report highlights the troubling impacts on ice systems from climate warming, underscoring the urgent need to act.

© Kt Miller/Polar Bears International

9/25/2019 7:50:45 PM

Special U.N. Climate Report on Oceans and Ice Systems

Today, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report on the ocean and ice systems in a warming climate.

The findings are sobering, painting a grim future for polar bears and people if we fail to make a swift transition from fossil fuels to address the climate crisis. The report notes that, even if we stopped polluting today, we will be forced to struggle with impacts based on past emissions. But failing to sharply reduce future emissions will have a devastating impact.

With respect to sea ice, melting polar ice sheets have now begun to dominate sea level rise, the reports notes. This sea ice loss not only affects wildlife like polar bears and seals, but is accelerating sea level rise, contributing to coastal flooding in countries far from the polar regions.

The report warns that without action to keep temperature rise below 2°C, ice-free summers in the Arctic are increasingly likely. Already, the summer and autumn sea ice extent has decreased by about 50 percent since satellite records began in 1978. This year’s sea ice extent was the second lowest since record-keeping began, continuing the downward trend.

“The latest IPCC report makes it clear that policy leaders and monied interests can no longer crank up the volume on the car’s radio to cover up the troubling noise coming from the engine,” said our chief scientist, Dr. Steven Amstrup. “That noise—including a meltdown in the Arctic, record heat, and devastating storms—has become too loud to ignore. To preserve a world where polar bears and people continue to flourish, we must demand our leaders listen to the science and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late.”

Read the full document, Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), and see a summary of the top takeaways from Climate Nexus.

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