04 Abril 2017 17:07
The Arctic is losing its whiteness and gradually turning green. The reason? The ice thaw provoked by climate change.
The phenomenon was first observed in 2011 in the Chukchi Sea, north of the Bering Strait – the passage that separates Alaska and Russia. Until now, experts were unsure about the cause of the colour change.
However, last Wednesday, an international team of researchers finally uncovered the mystery. Increasing temperatures are causing the ice to thaw, resulting in more sunlight entering the water. This, in turn, causes massive phytoplankton blooms to grow.
Arctic ice is progressively reducing in thickness. In 1980, the average depth of Arctic ice was 3.64 metres. By 2008, this had been reduced to 1.89 metres. Researchers have concluded that 30% of sea ice is thin enough for sunlight to penetrate it. 20 years ago, this percentage was just 2%, according to Advances Science.
'All of a sudden, our entire idea about how this ecosystem works is different,' said Harvard University's Christopher Horvat.
According to the study, the growth of plankton in the Arctic will transform the food chain, attracting fish and their predators to areas that are less accessible to animals requiring oxygen.
The new situation in the Arctic affects international trade and the world economy at a time of great political certainty. While most governments accept that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for these developments, Donald Trump recently signed an executive order dismantling US environmental policy, throwing the future of the battle against global warming into doubt.