From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Last Ice Area
Mains level : Climate Change
A part of the Arctic’s ice called the “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected. Scientists had believed this area was strong enough to withstand global warming.
What is the Last Ice Area?
- In an article published in 2015, National Geographic noted that climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040.
- However, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.
- But while this piece of ice above northern Canada and Greenland was expected to last the longest time, it is now showing signs of melting.
- WWF claims that WWF-Canada was the first to call this area the‘ Last Ice Area’.
Why is the area important?
- The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.
- The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring.
- Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for food search.
When did the area start changing?
- The first sign of change in LIA was observed in 2018.
- Further, in August last year, sea ice showed its “vulnerability” to the long-term effects of climate change.
- The ice in LIA has been thinning gradually over the years much like other parts of the Arctic Ocean.
What are the reasons that explain the change?
- About 80 per cent of thinning can be attributed to weather-related factors such as winds that break up and move the ice around.
- The remaining 20 per cent can be attributed to the longer-term thinning of the ice due to global warming.