Melting of the Arctic

By Julianna Schrag and Megan Guerrero

Best Case Scenario

I believe that the best case scenario for the Arctic and the Arctic Sea would be rapid ice growth extent in record amounts. This would mean a huge decrease in global warming and general climate temperature increase, however. It will take quite a miracle to stop the melting of the Arctic Sea ice. However, if the best case scenario occurs, animals who spend their lives in this region of the planet will be better off, and global warming wouldn't be as much of a threat, based on the conditions of the ice content.
In 2014-2015 Arctic sea ice extent grew 9.1 million square kilometers (3.83 million square miles). It was some growth, but it didn't beat the growth of last year, which saw record growth over the winter. This was obviously affected by general climate and weather conditions, and the unusual configuration of the jet stream in February lead to warm temperatures and conditions by the Pacific side of the Arctic. This is what maintains low sea ice growth, and leads to low atmospheric pressure. Over the first two weeks of this March, temperatures in the Arctic area have been well over the normal Celsius average (1). The factors that would definitely make the best case scenario difficult to achieve are significant. A huge one is the fact that climate and temperature in general is gradually rising, and that is near uncontrollable. The second is global warming. This one is more controllable because humans can have a say in it. If we do something to stop global warming, maybe we can do a small part to help stop the Arctic sea ice melt as rapidly as it has been recently.

Worst Case Scenario

There are plenty of things that could permanently damage the Arctic sea ice extent. Several scientists are worried that all of the Arctic sea ice will be gone in nearly a decade. It is more than likely that from 2015 and on, there will be at least six ice-free months per year in the Arctic. The worst case scenario would be that in a matter of two years, there would be practically no ice in the Arctic. Antarctica and other places in the Arctic are already experiencing a very thin atmospheric layer, and scientists are worried about climate increase and methane gas releases affecting the Arctic sea ice extent (2).
There are plenty of factors that could induce the worst case scenario for the Arctic. One of them is the fact that scientist are worried about a 50 Gigatonne methane pulse release as a result of thawing Arctic permafrost, which could very well destabilize the climate system. This is a huge concern and it can only hurt the sea ice extent (2). Another huge but common and general concern is temperature. Temperature in the Arctic has increased at twice the rate as the rest of the globe, and the region is expected to increase an additional eight degrees Celsius yet in the 21st century (3). Global Warming I believe also has a huge affect on Arctic ice. If it isn't the most significant cause, it certainly can't help matters. However, global warming has proved to dramatically alter polar sea ice extent. The average thickness of the sea ice is decreasing. Lost sea ice exposes dark, open waters, dramatically altering the ocean surface from highly reflective to absorbing most of the sun's energy. Ice loss leads to further warming of the ocean surface, which can again lead to more ice loss. It is a giant ice loss cycle! (4)

How Can We Help?

We can help with this major issue in one very obvious way. We can help stop global warming. Global warming is the one cause of this issue that humans have a lot of control over. If we ride our bikes or walk more, and use less CFC's, we can decrease global warming, and if we're lucky, we can increase Arctic ice extent, so animals in that habitat have a healthy home. The other simple thing we can do is just research this issue, and go to great organization websites to learn what do do from there. I hope you care about this issue, and do what you can to help!