Paris Agreement does not rule out ice-free Arctic


Figure 1: Probabilities of Arctic summer sea ice disappearing when crossing certain global Probabilities of Arctic summer sea ice disappearing when crossing certain global levels. Figure credits: Elke Zeller and Roman Olson.

Research published in Communications reveals a considerable chance for an ice-free Arctic Ocean at global warming limits stipulated in the Paris Agreement. Scientists from South Korea, Australia and the USA used results from climate models and a new statistical approach to calculate the likelihood for Arctic sea ice to disappear at different warming levels.

The researchers applied a new statistical method that they developed to climate model projections of the 21st century. Using 31 different climate models, which exhibit considerable inter-dependence, the authors find that there is at least a 6% probability that summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean will disappear at 1.5 °C warming above pre-industrial levels –a lower limit recommended by the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Figure 1).

For a 2°C warming, the probability for losing the ice rises to at least 28%. Most likely we will see an ice-free summer Arctic Ocean for the first time at 2 to 2.5°C warming.

To read more about the statistical method they used, and how they developed it, read our news story:

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