At a press conference today, US and German scientists updated negotiators and journalists with the latest science on the state of Arctic sea ice, the Antarctic continent and thawing permafrost.
New observations gathered since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report show the cryosphere in serious and irreversible decline, they warned.
That's the first few paragraphs of an article on The Carbon Brief blog.
I'm highlighting the parts concerning the Arctic below:
Irreversible loss of world's ice cover should spur leaders into action, say scientists
"This is not like air pollution or water pollution, where if you clean it up it will go back to the way it was before."
Sea ice in decline
Arctic sea ice has been retreating rapidly in recent years as a result of greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere, explained Dr Dirk Notz, sea ice expert at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The biggest losses are happening in summer, he said:
"Over the past 10 years or so, we've roughly seen a 50% loss of Arctic sea ice area. So, the ice in the Arctic is currently retreating very, very rapidly."
In March, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest maximum extent in the satellite record. Last week, the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre confirmed Arctic sea ice extent for May was the third lowest on record.Arctic sea ice extent for 2015 compared to the 1981-2010 long term average. Source: NSIDC
"There is a slight increase, but it's nothing compared to the very, very rapid loss that we've seen in the Arctic."
Scientists' current understanding is that temperature changes as a result of greenhouse gases are causing winds to blow stronger offshore in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, driving the sea ice outwards. Notz said:
"Both in the Arctic and the Antarctic, the changes we are seeing in the sea ice are very clearly driven predominantly by human activities."
A slide from Dr Dirk Notz's presentation, putting Antartcic sea ice gain in perspective with the rate of Arctic sea ice loss. Source: ICCI press conference, Bonn June 2015
Model simulations suggest sea ice could be gone from the Arctic in summer by mid-century. But if we stop emitting greenhouse gases, the chances of losing sea ice diminish quickly, he said:
"Only a very strong and rapid reduction in carbon dioxide might allow for the survival of Arctic summer sea ice beyond this century."
Read the rest of the article here. There's also some interesting stuff on ice sheets and permafrost.
Stop the melting. We need the ice to keep things stable.