What Will Happen If There’s an Iceless Summer in the Arctic

The Arctic region is experiencing unprecedented changes due to the ongoing climate crisis. Scientists predict that an ice-free summer in the Arctic could become a reality in the very near future. Here’s what’s causing the Arctic sea ice to melt, what will happen if it essentially disappears, and how you can help to save it.

What Is Causing Dangerous Levels of Arctic Sea Ice Melt?

The melt of sea ice in the Arctic is caused by a combination of natural and human-induced factors. Natural factors include variations in solar radiation, atmospheric circulation patterns, and natural climate oscillations. However, the human-induced climate system interference resulting from greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) has been a far greater driver of the accelerated sea ice melt in recent decades. 

The emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, traps heat in the atmosphere and leads to a rise in global temperatures. The Arctic region is particularly vulnerable to these temperature increases due to a phenomenon called “Arctic amplification,” in which the region warms at a faster rate than the global average. This accelerated warming is caused by the feedback loop of melting ice, reduced surface reflectivity, and increased absorption of solar energy, further amplifying the temperature rise. 

When We Could Begin To Have Ice-Free Summers in the Arctic

Arctic amplification causes the Arctic sea ice to melt at an alarming rate, jeopardizing the delicate balance of the polar ecosystem and drastically impacting the entire world’s climate system. According to scientific studies and predictions, the Arctic could witness ice-free summers in the near future. Although experts originally feared that most sea ice could melt by the 2050s, current ice-free Arctic predictions estimate it may nearly be gone by the 2030s.

What Will Happen If the Arctic Becomes Ice-Free

Here are some of the major disasters that will occur if Arctic sea ice disappears.

Global Sea Level Rise

Although global sea levels have been rising since 1900, the melting of Arctic sea ice will accelerate this process. Arctic sea ice loss contributes to global sea level rise through a two-step process:

  1. First, as the Arctic sea ice melts, it adds more water to the ocean, increasing its volume. This initial influx of water from the melting ice directly contributes to rising sea levels.
  2. Second, the loss of sea ice disrupts the balance of the Earth’s energy system. As ice cover decreases, the dark ocean surface underneath absorbs more sunlight, leading to increased warming. This in turn hastens the melting of glaciers and ice sheets in other regions, such as Greenland and Antarctica, causing additional water to flow into the ocean and quicken the rate at which the global sea level rises. 

The combination of these processes underscores the importance of addressing the loss of Arctic sea ice to mitigate the impacts of rising sea levels on coastal communities worldwide.

Exacerbated Coastal Flooding

With the loss of Arctic sea ice, global sea levels will rise due to the increased volume of melted ice flowing into the ocean. The rise in sea levels intensifies the risk of coastal flooding and erosion, threatening communities and infrastructure near coastlines. Low-lying regions, including many islands and coastal cities, will be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of flooding, and millions of people may potentially be displaced.

Changes to Ocean Currents

The melting of Arctic sea ice also has significant consequences for ocean currents. As freshwater from melting ice enters the ocean, it reduces the salinity (saltiness) of the seawater, affecting the water’s density and the circulation patterns of its currents (as well as damaging marine ecosystems). This process has the potential to disrupt the global ocean conveyor belt system, which plays a crucial role in redistributing heat around the planet. Ultimately, these processes result in each ocean current slowing down and impacting climate patterns worldwide.

Destabilized Climate

The reflective nature of ice helps to regulate the Earth’s temperature by reflecting sunlight back into space. As the ice cover diminishes, more sunlight is absorbed by the dark ocean surface, contributing to further warming. This positive feedback loop, combined with slower ocean currents, can trigger a chain reaction, leading to more extreme weather events, altered precipitation patterns, and increased regional climate variability.

Damage to Crops

Changes in climate patterns resulting from an ice-free Arctic can have severe implications for agriculture. Shifts in precipitation and temperature regimes can disrupt traditional growing seasons and affect crop yields. Unpredictable weather patterns, including more frequent extreme events such as droughts and heatwaves, can harm agricultural production globally, potentially leading to food shortages and price volatility.

New Shipping Routes and Increased Carbon Emissions

The disappearance of Arctic sea ice would open up new shipping routes through the region, including the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route. While these routes offer economic opportunities for trade and shipping, they will also come with environmental costs. Increased maritime activity in the Arctic will lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions from shipping vessels, further exacerbating the climate crisis. These emissions will contribute to the very same factors that caused the ice melt in the first place.

Habitat Loss, Disruption of Arctic Ecosystems, and Species Extinction

The Arctic region is home to diverse and unique ecosystems that rely on sea ice. The loss of this ice cover disrupts the delicate balance of the Arctic ecosystem, affecting wildlife migration patterns, endangering species, and impacting the entire food chain. Iconic Arctic species such as polar bears, seals, and walruses are all at risk of losing their habitat, potentially leading to their decline or extinction. 

The endangerment of sea ice algae is particularly alarming, as it not only feeds many animals in the ecosystem, but also releases bacteria into the atmosphere that help to form clouds. Without adequate cloud coverage, the Arctic sea ice will melt even faster as part of a separate feedback loop.

Climate Feedback and Loss of Permafrost

The melting of Arctic sea ice also accelerates the thawing of permafrost, which is permanently frozen ground that stores vast amounts of carbon. As permafrost thaws, it releases significant amounts of greenhouse gasses—including methane, which further contributes to the climate crisis. This positive feedback loop intensifies the warming effect and accelerates the rate of climate change, creating an even more challenging scenario for future generations.

The potential occurrence of a sea ice-free summer in the Arctic carries profound consequences for our planet. Urgent global action is necessary to mitigate the causes of the climate crisis, as well as to adapt to the changes that are already underway. By prioritizing sustainable practices, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting vulnerable ecosystems, we can work towards a more resilient future for our planet and all its inhabitants.

Help Stop Arctic Sea Ice Melt With Arctic Ice Project

You can do your part in this critical fight by spreading awareness of and supporting efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. One way to do this is by donating to a climate restoration nonprofit like Arctic Ice Project. No donation is too small, though if you are not able to make a financial contribution, you can also share the message and inspire others to act through social media and by staying informed on climate projects.

With your donation of cash, stocks, bonds, or even the opening of a DAF, you can help ensure that humanity on our planet not only sees tomorrow, but a brighter one. Please consider donating to Arctic Ice Project today!


Record Levels of Antarctic Sea Ice Melt and the Global Consequences

The Antarctic, often considered Earth’s final frontier, is sending us a distress signal: the region has been experiencing record low levels of sea ice. This phenomenon has far-reaching implications, not just for polar ecosystems and wildlife, but for our planet’s climate, ecosystems, and sea levels as a whole. Here’s what you need to know about Antarctic ice melting and what these unprecedented changes mean for our future.

The Current State of Antarctic Sea Ice

As of 2023, Antarctic sea ice has been at record low levels for months. The ice extent for February 21 averaged 1.79 million square kilometers, marking the lowest in the 45-year satellite record. This year’s minimum extent plunged below the previous record set in 2023 by 136,000 square kilometers. According to senior research scientists, this marks a very sudden change. You can find an example of an Antarctic ice melt map here.

Why Is This Happening?

The sharp drop in Antarctic sea ice is alarming scientists and raising concerns about its vital role in regulating ocean and air temperatures. One theory suggests that warm ocean water from other parts of the planet has started to mix with the layer of water at the surface, where sea ice normally forms. This has led to a little bit of heat in that water, making it more difficult for ice to form.

Ecological Consequences for Wildlife

The decline in sea ice has immediate ecological repercussions. As just one example, both of Antarctica’s native penguin species rely on sea ice for survival. Antarctic penguins include the Adélie and emperor penguins. The Adélie eat exclusively krill, a tiny crustacean that thrives in icy water. Less sea ice means less krill and less food for this species. Larger emperor penguins lay their eggs and raise their young on these floating habitats. When sea ice melts earlier in the season, the chicks can drown.

Global Consequences

A continued decline in Antarctic sea ice would expose more of the continent’s ice sheet to the open ocean, allowing it to melt and break off more easily. This will exacerbate currently rising sea levels that affect coastal populations around the world. The West Antarctic ice shelf alone contains enough water to raise global sea levels by about 10 feet.

But that’s not all. Because ice is white, it reflects the sun’s rays on a large scale, protecting the earth from excessive heat. Less ice means a greater exposure of the dark ocean waters underneath, which absorb solar rays. This means that as the ice melts, it actually speeds up the rate of already-excessive global warming.

The Future Outlook

Scientists are still investigating whether the record low might signal a shift in the sea ice system to a new, unstable state where extremes become more common. However, the consensus is that we’re probably in for several years of low sea ice in Antarctica.

The record levels of Antarctic sea ice melt are not just a concern for scientists, but a warning for humanity. The melting ice has immediate ecological consequences and poses a long-term threat to global sea levels. As the Antarctic continues to lose its icy armor, the world must prepare for the ripple effects that will inevitably follow.

Help Protect Polar Sea Ice With Arctic Ice Project

Arctic Ice Project’s efforts are crucial to the protection of Arctic sea ice. Our team is developing reflective materials and strategies to increase the albedo of this precious ice, mimicking natural processes to reflect solar energy out of our atmosphere and restore the Arctic.

You can do your part in this critical fight by spreading awareness of and supporting efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. One way to do this is by donating to a climate restoration nonprofit like Arctic Ice Project. No donation is too small, though if you are not able to make a financial contribution, you can also share the message and inspire others to act through social media and by staying informed on climate projects.

With your donation of cash, stocks, bonds, or even the opening of a DAF, you can help ensure that Arctic sea life and humanity on our planet not only see a tomorrow, but see a brighter one. Please consider donating to Arctic Ice Project today!

The Impact of Melting Arctic Sea Ice on Wildlife

The rapid decline of sea ice in the Arctic, once caused by the climate crisis and now a major contributor to it, has grave consequences globally. But for the region’s delicate ecosystems and its diverse wildlife, the impacts are closer to home.The melting sea ice alters the availability of essential habitats and disrupts food webs, endangering a wide variety of species. Keep reading to get a better understanding of the impacts of sea ice melt on several key Arctic animals.

The Arctic Species Facing the Most Dire Threats

Here are some of the species that are hit hardest by Arctic sea ice loss.

The Building Block of Food Chains: Algae and Phytoplankton

Algae and phytoplankton form the foundation of Arctic marine food webs. It’s also well worth noting that all of the phytoplankton in the world’s oceans together provides half the Earth’s oxygen supply. Sea ice provides a stable environment for algae and phytoplankton to thrive and reproduce. As sea ice diminishes, the related change in sunlight penetration stimulates changes in the growth and composition of these organism communities. 

These alterations can disrupt the entire Arctic food web, beginning with the zooplankton species (like krill) that consume these organisms. Without zooplankton, seabirds, bowhead whales, and fish species like Arctic cod are left without an adequate food supply, as are the many species that rely on fish as a food source.

Beluga Whales

Sea ice is critical for Beluga whale habitat preservation. Beluga whales inhabit the Arctic waters and depend on sea ice for various activities, including mating, giving birth, and evading predators. The melting sea ice affects nearly every aspect of their lives, from food availability to migration patterns to overall habitat quality. Reduced sea ice cover can leave whales more vulnerable to shipping traffic and noise pollution and with greater exposure to predators.

Polar Bears

Polar bears are among the most iconic species affected by sea ice melt. They overwhelmingly rely on sea ice, which makes up over 96% of critical polar bear habitat. They use sea ice as a hunting platform to catch seals, their primary food source. With diminishing ice cover, polar bears face longer fasting periods, reduced hunting success, and increased energy expenditure. The loss of sea ice also limits their ability to reach important denning areas and negatively impacts their survival rates, reproductive success, and overall population size.

As a result of the ice melt, polar bears are now spending more time on land. As this trend increases, so does the risk of human contact and conflict with them.

Saimee Ringed Seals

Saimee ringed seals are a species native to Lake Saimaa in Finland. These (along with other seal species, including bearded, spotted, ribbon, harp, and hooded varieties) depend on ice and snow in multiple ways. Rising temperatures disrupt the balance of their ecosystem, affecting ice formation and reducing available breeding habitats. Lake Saimaa is a freshwater lake, however sea ice melt directly correlates with a decrease in winter lake ice cover. Seals in particular are known for their breeding site fidelity, or habit of returning to specific areas to breed each year.

In addition, without ice cover, seal pups are susceptible to both animal and human predation. Because of this double threat to reproduction and offspring survival, ringed seals are at a heightened risk of extinction.


Walruses rely on sea ice as resting platforms between foraging bouts and as safe places for young calves to stay while their parents hunt for food. With reduced sea ice cover, walruses face increased competition for suitable haul-out sites (places to rest and breed). This leads to overcrowding and the heightened risk of stampedes, which can result in injury or death. Further, the loss of sea ice limits their access to food resources, potentially impacting their overall health and natural functions—including reproduction.

Other Threatened Species: Land Animals

Here are some examples of other species at risk due to the loss of Arctic sea ice melt.

Arctic Foxes

Arctic foxes heavily rely on sea ice as a hunting platform and breeding ground. The shrinking sea ice diminishes their access to prey, such as seals and seabirds, making it increasingly challenging to secure sufficient food sources for themselves and their young. The loss of sea ice also threatens their denning sites, leading to population decline and reduced reproductive success.

Musk Oxen

Musk oxen inhabit the Arctic tundra and have adapted to withstand harsh winters. However, the impacts of sea ice melt extend beyond the marine environment. As sea ice declines, the availability of forage plants decreases, affecting the food supply for musk oxen. This reduction in nutritious vegetation can lead to malnutrition, reduced body condition, and increased susceptibility to diseases.


Reindeer are an integral part of the Arctic ecosystem, supporting indigenous communities and acting as a keystone species. The decline in sea ice alters weather patterns, which in turn affects the availability and quality of reindeer forage (the grasses and plants they feed on). Changes in vegetation growth and distribution can lead to nutritional deficiencies, population declines, and increased vulnerability to parasites and predators.

Urgent global efforts are needed to mitigate the climate crisis and preserve the delicate balance of these unique habitats and the species that depend on them. Fortunately, you can make a difference with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Help Stop Arctic Sea Ice Melt With Arctic Ice Project

Arctic Ice Project’s efforts are crucial to the protection of Arctic sea ice. You can do your part in this critical fight by spreading awareness of and supporting efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. One way to do this is by donating to a climate restoration nonprofit like Arctic Ice Project. No donation is too small, though if you are not able to make a financial contribution, you can also share the message and inspire others to act through social media and by staying informed on climate projects.

With your donation you can help ensure that Arctic sea life and humanity on our planet not only sees tomorrow, but a brighter one. Please consider donating to Arctic Ice Project today!


The Looming Threat: What Happens if the Gulf Stream Shuts Down?

Given the increasing frequency and severity of extreme temperatures and natural disasters now occurring all around the world, it’s fairly clear that the current global climate crisis has grave impacts on our weather. What many people may not realize is that this is caused in part by changes to the ocean currents, which directly impact weather patterns. If appropriate climate intervention doesn’t happen immediately, these currents — including the Gulf Stream — will continue to be altered, with catastrophic results.


Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Gulf Stream?

The Gulf Stream is a strong, fast ocean current that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean in a northeastern direction, toward Iceland, the UK, and Europe. There, it mixes with cold North Atlantic water. It’s part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a complex system of ocean currents that transport warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic.

Why Is the Gulf Stream Important?

The Gulf Stream — a powerful part of the AMOC system — plays a pivotal role in regulating Earth’s climate, and is at risk of collapsing. 


In fact, recent studies suggest that the Gulf Stream could collapse as early as 2025, although estimates range up to 2095. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been more conservative in its projections, stating that a collapse this century is unlikely. However, some experts argue that the models used may not fully capture the nonlinear processes in its decline, potentially underestimating the risks.


The consequences of such an event would be catastrophic, affecting weather patterns, sea levels, and even agriculture on a global scale. Here’s what will happen if the Gulf Stream continues to deteriorate and why immediate action is necessary.

How Does the Gulf Stream Affect Climate?

The heat that the Gulf Stream brings to the North Atlantic heavily shapes the climate not only in Western Europe and the rest of the continent, but in the entire Northern Hemisphere. However, the Gulf Stream current has been weakening due to significant melting of the Greenland ice cap and Arctic sea ice, and the influx of freshwater sources. This dilutes the salinity (salt levels) of the ocean, reducing its density and causing the Gulf Stream to shut down. In turn, the natural flow of other ocean currents is being impacted as well, which upsets the balance of climate and weather worldwide.

If the Gulf Stream Stopped Running, How Would the Climates of North America and Europe Be Affected?

Here’s what will happen to climates in the Northern Hemisphere and beyond if the Gulf Stream shuts down completely.

Temperature Changes

If the warm Gulf Stream collapses, Western Europe would experience a dramatic drop in temperatures. A collapse could result in temperature drops of up to 10 or 15 degrees Celsius. This would have a domino effect on agriculture, energy consumption, and even human health, as colder temperatures could lead to increased respiratory issues.

Sea Level Rise

The eastern coast of North America would not be spared either. A collapse of the Gulf Stream would lead to a significant rise in sea levels in this region. This would exacerbate existing problems of coastal erosion and flooding, putting cities like New York and Boston at greater risk. The economic implications would be enormous, affecting property values and requiring massive investments in coastal defenses.

Global Agricultural Disruption

The collapse of the Gulf Stream would also severely disrupt the global water cycle, affecting rainfall patterns essential for agriculture elsewhere in the world. Countries in India, South America, and West Africa would be particularly hard-hit. Reduced rainfall and altered weather patterns could lead to crop failures, food shortages, and increased prices, affecting billions of people worldwide.

Ecological Consequences

The ecological impact would be devastating as well. The Amazon rainforest, often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth,” would be further endangered, leading to a loss of biodiversity and increased carbon dioxide levels. Similarly, the Antarctic ice sheets would face further melting, contributing to global sea level rise and disrupting marine ecosystems.

What Can Be Done to Save the Gulf Stream?

The most effective way to prevent the collapse of the Gulf Stream is to take multifaceted approaches to mitigating climate change. This includes many solutions many people are already familiar with, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, enhancing energy efficiency, and protecting and restoring forests, which act as carbon sinks. 


Another lesser-known yet equally essential intervention strategy is to find ways to slow and stop the melting of Arctic sea ice. Preserving this ice will help to reduce the influx of freshwater into the ocean, one of the primary factors weakening the Gulf Stream. It can also work to uphold the integrity of the larger AMOC system and keep the planet from climate devastation.

Help Protect Essential Sea Ice With Arctic Ice Project

Arctic Ice Project’s efforts are crucial to the protection of Arctic sea ice. Our team is developing reflective materials and strategies to increase the albedo of this precious ice, mimicking natural processes to reflect solar energy out of our atmosphere and restore the Arctic.


You can do your part in this critical fight by spreading awareness of and supporting efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. One way to do this is by donating to a climate restoration nonprofit like Arctic Ice Project. No donation is too small, though if you are not able to make a financial contribution, you can also share the message and inspire others to act through social media and by staying informed on climate projects.


With your donation of cash, stocks, bonds, or even the opening of a DAF, you can help ensure that Arctic sea life and humanity on our planet not only sees tomorrow, but a brighter one. Please consider donating to Arctic Ice Project today!


Greenland: Reflections from a Melting Planet

The first thing I noticed after touching down in the western Greenland settlement of Kangerlussuuaq was barren rock and a gray, sediment-choked river.

It was day one of traveling with a group led by Rising Seas Institute and Oceanographer John Englander. As we stood on a new bridge that spans the Watson River, my heart dropped as we learned the reason for the new bridge: accelerated melt from glaciers and flooded ice dams washed the bridge away ten years ago and it had just been reconstructed.

This grim story of the Watson River flood foreshadowed our journey through this beautiful, treacherous, and mostly frozen island called Greenland. Reminders of a rapidly changing environment were everywhere.

We continued on to Iluulisat, a thriving port town, its bay filled with icebergs so enormous they resembled a bleached Manhattan skyline. The iceberg that sank the RMS Titanic is said to have split from the Kangia Glacier that feeds into this very bay. The difference of course, between 1912 and now, is the undeniable acceleration of calving and loss of ice and water from the Greenland Ice Sheet. 


It is hard to see these floating ice sculptures and their sheer size as anything but beautiful when traveling in a boat among them.

Flying over the massive ice sheet reveals a much different story. To view the frozen terrain from the air reveals the destructive forces behind the beauty we had sailed through. Glaciers retreat from the sea and the radiant blue pock marks of melt ponds scar the ice sheet.

The melt ponds form rivers that seem to disappear into the ice via mulons or vertical shafts. Black soot, dirt, mold and pulverized rock dust give the ice sheet a tired, worn look. The loss becomes more evident at the edge of the sheet, where the calving occurs. Thunderous booms echo across the valley as huge chunks of ice fall into the bay.


In a perfect world, fresh snow and ice would cover the ice sheet, as it used to. There would be markedly fewer melt ponds and the scarred, cracked surface would be hidden under a radiant blanket of snow and ice. But this is not a perfect world.

The Greenland Ice Sheet, if it were to disappear, would raise sea levels by 30 feet.

The critical role that ice plays in keeping our planet cool, be it sea ice or land ice, is nowhere more evident than in Greenland.

We must do something to slow the loss of ice in the Arctic. 

I share this story with you today, in the face of political inaction, because witnessing the devastation climate change has already caused, first hand, has inspired in me a new urgency for action. We can wait no longer. The world’s governments are failing to meet this moment and so we find ourselves in positions where we must each step up and join the fight for our planet’s future – for our future and next generations.

Time is not on our side, but at Arctic Ice Project we are working to change that. Arctic Ice Project has developed and is researching a promising technology that improves the reflectivity of sea ice. By mimicking the natural reflective properties of ice, AIP methods can reflect solar energy out of our atmosphere, shepherding sea ice to survive the increasingly long, warm and intense Arctic summers. Our solution, strategically and safely applied in the Arctic, could provide up to 15 more years for our world’s economies to decarbonize and draw down GHGs from the atmosphere. Decarbonization is the ultimate solution, however our window of opportunity is limited and we need to take action now. I have committed myself to being part of this exciting research solution and I encourage you to join me. 

This Giving Tuesday (just three weeks away), we are raising money to fund the next round of research towards ensuring our technology is safe and effective. We rely exclusively on private donations to support our research and need your help to reach our goal of $50,000 to continue our progress. Climate change action can’t be postponed another day, week or year – I urge you to help us meet this goal today.


With gratitude,

Carol Sontag

AIP Board of Directors


All images were taken by Carol Sontag during her trip to Greenland. 

The Arctic is in Crisis

Steve Zornetzer, PhD and AIP Board Member 

I am going to start out this report with something that scientists normally don’t do and that is to share some feelings with you. I’m scared, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated and I’m angry. Political leaders and humankind in general have not taken climate change and global warming issues more seriously than they have in the past.  We are losing ground on global warming. It is advancing much faster than we had hoped. We have not abided by the Paris Accords or any of the commitments we have made as governments around the world to begin weaning ourselves from a carbon economy and from fossil fuels and therefore climate change continues to advance. We have only a short window of time to act.  

Our planet’s climate is changing due to human-caused disruption of the balance between solar radiation absorption (heat gain) and heat loss into space. Atmospheric absorption of surface thermal radiation has been increasing due to huge emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by humankind into the Earth’s atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. These gases, commonly called “greenhouse gases” (GHG), trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise be reflected back into space. The net effect is a reduction in planetary heat loss while solar radiation heat gain continues, thus warming the planet. In its simplest form, this imbalance is the root cause of global warming (GW).

So, the question is, how do we, as the species that caused this unintended GW problem, solve the problem? Before addressing this question directly, as we will below, it is important to understand the consequences of doing nothing. The adverse impacts of GW and associated climate change are undeniably dangerous: intensified destructive storms, droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, and an intense decrease in biodiversity caused by habitat degradation. Together, these consequences threaten the material safety and food security of a growing human population. Doing nothing to slow and potentially reverse GW is not an option. Human and economic suffering will be catastrophic. Cost estimates for climate change-related disasters and associated infrastructure, agricultural, economic and human health impacts by 2040 are staggering. In just the next two decades, these costs are estimated to be $54 trillion world-wide. Today it is estimated that the Arctic is warming more than three times faster than the rest of the planet. This is the Arctic crisis.

At the Arctic Ice Project (AIP), we believe that regional surface albedo modification (SAM), will strategically increase the reflectivity of Arctic sea ice to preserve and extend its persistence. SAM, if proven safe and effective, could be deployed with few or no unintended consequences. The more ice that persists during Arctic summer months, the more solar reflectivity and the less planetary heating. In recent decades, Arctic sea and land ice have been melting at frighteningly fast rates. This ice loss is reducing the planet’s reflectivity and simultaneously increasing heat gain through greater absorption of solar energy by dark Arctic Ocean waters during summer when the sun shines 24 hours/day. This accelerating loss of sea ice is contributing to the alarmingly rapid warming of the Arctic. Not many years ago, Arctic warming and sea ice loss was thought to be a consequence of GW. Today, scientists now know that Arctic warming has become so great that it is now a contributor to GW. Some scientists estimate as much as 25% of all GW would be contributed by complete loss of summer Arctic sea ice. Loss of Arctic sea ice engages two feedback mechanisms that promote accelerated warming. First, loss of summer sea ice reduces the reflectivity of the surface allowing more solar energy to be absorbed by the ocean, leading to more heating which in turn leads to further sea ice loss. Second, sea ice provides a thermal barrier protecting the cold Arctic air from the relatively warmer ocean below, effectively insulating the colder air from the warmer ocean water. Loss of sea ice removes this insulation and the ocean warms the air which in turn melts more ice. These two positive feedback loops contribute to “Arctic Amplification”, i.e., accelerated warming. 

The objective of sea ice SAM is to break these feedback loops, restore sea ice, mitigate warming over a large Arctic region, and slow GW. AIP’s innovation is to increase the reflectivity of young ice by applying a very thin layer of reflective hollow silica glass microspheres onto the surface of the ice. This could increase the reflectivity of ice by about 50 percent, reducing the absorption of solar radiation. The material used in this treatment is nontoxic, consisting mostly of silica (the primary material in sand, and most rocks). Bio-toxicological testing to date has shown no adverse impact on wildlife. AIP believes, in agreement with a recent National Academy of Science report, that a major research and development effort is urgently needed to fully understand the safety, effectiveness, cost and potential unintended consequences of currently proposed climate intervention approaches. We need every effective and safe tool in the toolbox to be ready for use. The clock is ticking and the Arctic crisis contributes significantly to the GW crisis, looming larger and larger each year we do nothing. We must act! Doing nothing is not an option! We appreciate your support and encouragement as we make progress towards providing an effective mitigation to GW.