Skeptics, when they are not claiming that the Arctic Sea ice is growing or staying the same ignore the implications of its disappearance by saying “So what if it melts?”
There are two reasons why it’s important, the first being less important than the second:
First, it is a clear indication that the earth is indeed warming.
Second, and most important, an ice-free Arctic will drastically alter the weather in the northern hemisphere where the majority of people live. To understand how the weather will be changed we need to know how the ice currently affects it and what would happen without it.
Should the ice melt, it will expose open ocean water with the following chain reaction of effects:
1. White ice reflects sunlight making the Arctic colder than it would otherwise be. The dark blue color of the open sea absorbs heat which will make the Arctic Ocean’s newly opened waters increase in temperature by several degrees.
2. The warmer water is, the more it evaporates.
3. The more water evaporates, the more rain and snow there will be in places further south of the Arctic.
4. Warming water will also warm the atmosphere above it making storms more powerful.
5. These intensified storms will worsen flooding south of the Arctic region impacting Canada, the United States, and other nations.
6. Intensified flooding will harm agriculture and city infrastructure.
Any radical change in one portion of the Earth will inevitably have a chain reaction of effects on the rest of the planet. Those effects will, in turn, affect our civilization’s ability to grow food and maintain its urban infrastructure.