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The tipping point towards irreversible global warming has perhaps already been crossed, with consequences ” Cascade “ for the planet, warned Tuesday June 15 the German head of the largest scientific expedition ever led to the North Pole.

“Only the assessment of the next few years will determine whether we can still save the Arctic sea ice present all year round through consistent climate protection, or whether we have already passed this important tipping point of the climate system”, underlined Markus Rex in Berlin, eight months after the return of the international mission carried out during one year in the Arctic.

“We may wonder if we triggered the start of the explosion”

“The disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic is one of the first mines in the minefield, one of the tipping points we first trigger when we push warming too far.”, he explained during a press conference with the German Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek.

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Or “One can really wonder if we have not already walked on this mine and already triggered the start of the explosion”, insisted this climatologist and physicist, a leading scientist in the study of the Arctic.

If this tipping point has already been crossed, it can trigger adverse effects ” Cascade “, he also warned, and “Further aggravate warming such as the disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet or the thawing of ever larger areas of the Arctic permafrost”. The threat also hangs over the old glaciers. “Today we do not know either if we can save the coral reef”, he said.

Comprehensive data

When the icebreaker returns Polarstern at his home port of Bremerhaven, in north-west Germany, on October 12, the head of the mission dubbed “Mosaic” had already issued a cry of alarm about the sea ice, claiming that it was melting in “A dramatic speed”.

For nearly a year, international teams have collected exhaustive data, especially during the months when the ship drifted in the ice of the North Pole, which must deliver valuable information on climate change. The retreat of the sea ice in summer is considered by scientists as “The epicenter of global warming”, selon Markus Rex.

For 389 days, the mission studied the atmosphere, the ocean, the sea ice and the ecosystem to collect data assessing the impact of climate change on the region and the whole world.


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