Global warming may have already reached an irreversible tipping point, according to the scientist who conducted the largest-ever Arctic expedition.
“The disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is one of the first landmines in this minefield, one of the tipping points that we set off first when we push warming too far,” said Professor Markus Rex.
“And one can essentially ask if we haven’t already stepped on this mine and already set off the beginning of the explosion.”
Professor Rex was the leader of the world’s largest trip to the North Pole, which included 300 scientists from 20 countries.
After 389 days drifting through the North Pole, the team returned to Germany in October, bearing heartbreaking proof of a vanishing Arctic Ocean and forecasts of ice-free summers in only a few decades.
The 140 million euro (US$165 million) expedition also brought back 150 terabytes of data and more than 1,000 ice samples.
Scientists discovered that the Arctic sea ice retreated “faster in the spring of 2020 than since the beginning of records,” and that “the spread of the sea ice in the summer was only half as wide as decades ago,” according to Rex.