How algae in the Arctic provides new proof global warming is real
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There's new evidence the Arctic is warming, more difficult to dismiss. Since 2011, algae has appeared in the Arctic, brought to life by the thinning ice which allows more sunlight than ever before. The implications of this development remain unknown.
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If temperature records, and thinning ice don't convince people the Arctic is warming, perhaps this humble algae will?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- If the Arctic isn't warming, then why is algae blooming under the ice? According to most scientists, global warming has caused ice in the Arctic to thin by 50 percent since 1980, allowing enough sunlight though to sustain algae.
Algae grows almost everywhere, but algae blooms in the Arctic are rare. Thirty years ago, algae could be found under just five percent of Arctic ice. Now it is present under 30 percent of the ice in July.
The first mass algae bloom was detected in 2011 in the Chukchi Sea, above the Bearing Strait. The bloom surprised scientists who thought the region was too dark and too cold to sustain an algae bloom. But thinning ice has permitted just enough sunlight though to cause the bloom.
Since 2011, the algae has advanced.
Arctic ice measurements reveal the average thickness of ice has diminished from about 12 feet to just over six.
What effect the algae will have on the ice or the planet's climate is unknown. Darker regions tend to absorb more heat, so it is possible the algae will speed the melting of ice in the spring and summer.
Scientists believe the Arctic will become ice-free during the summer months in the decades ahead as the planet's climate continues to warm.
The algae has bloomed each year since 2011, and continues to expand each summer.
The finding comes as the debate about global warming picks up pace. While a broad consensus of scientists believes that global warming is real, and is being caused by human activity, the view is not shared by the Trump administration or many political conservatives. There are a variety of views that range from suggesting the planet is warming, but that nature is to blame, to a refutation that the planet is warming at all. Those who hold these opposite views are often called skeptics.
Skeptics generally agree that some warming is taking place, but it is not significant enough to cause harm, or is decades into the future, or unavoidable anyway.
The debate is important because the consequences of global warming are significant. If the problem is real and we do nothing, then millions of people could suffer. Conversely, if the problem doesn't exist and we overreact, then millions of people could be denied economic opportunities and even basic freedoms, without any real justification.
But one thing is sure: the Arctic is changing, and it has a major influence on global weather patterns. Whether for better or worse, remains to be seen.
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