‘Arctic Ocean is dying’ Scientist’s dire warning after biggest North Pole expedition yet

The year-long mission aboard the Polarstern ship has recorded the devastating effect of global warming on the Arctic. Some 300 scientists representing 20 countries have observed worrying levels of ice melt, sometimes seeing open water “stretching as far as the horizon”. The scientists have now dubbed this part of the world “the epicentre of climate change”.

Expedition leader Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany said: “We witnessed how the Arctic Ocean is dying.

“We saw this process right outside our windows, or when we walked on the brittle ice.”

The Polarstern expedition, dubbed MOSAiC, pulled into port today (October 12) after spending 389 days in the Arctic.

The mission collected data on the atmosphere, ocean and Arctic ice sheet to better understand the impact of climate change for years to come.

The £131million (€145million) expedition set up four observation points in 25 miles (40km) radius around the Polarstern.

The scientists then collected water samples from below the Arctic ice to study how plankton and bacteria fare under extreme conditions.

Dr Rex said: “At the North Pole itself, we found badly eroded, melted, thin and brittle ice.”

Unfortunately, if warming trends are allowed to continue, the expert said the Arctic is going to see ice-free summers in as little as a few decades.

More than 1,000 ice samples and some 150 terabytes – more than 150,000,000MB – of data returned to Germany this week.

We witnessed how the Arctic Ocean is dying

Dr Markus Rex of, Alfred Wegener Institute

And the mission does not end here as the scientists will next sift through this data.

Dr Thomas Krumpen, a sea ice physicist, said: “For us, the second phase is starting – the analysis of data.

“A lot of data has returned with the ship and we will likely be busy with it over the next 10 years.”

More than 100 parameters were measured to obtain the data, which will help develop prediction models for future heatwaves, storms and heavy rains up to 100 years from now.

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In August this year, scientists warned the Arctic summer sea ice could disappear as early as 2035.

Then in July, Arctic ice coverage reached a new low of only about 2.8 million square miles.

For comparison, 40 years ago, Arctic ice covered about 3.8 million square miles of water – roughly the equivalent of the US.

Ice in the Arctic has been in gradual decline since the late 1970s, with climate-warming trends worldwide linked directly to human activity.

According to the US space agency NASA, which operates a number of climate-tracking missions, the evidence of the human factor is compelling.

NASA said: “Humans have caused major climate changes to happen already, and we have set in motion more changes still.

“Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries.”

According to some predictions, the planet is on track to warm by a devastating 6C (10.8F) if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The space agency added: “It’s up to us what happens next.”

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