Climate tipping points
Updated: Jun 15
Trends this year for Sea Ice Extent and Sea Surface Temperature anomalies are a sign that Earth's climate are hitting dangerous and irreversible tipping points. Sea ice is like a sunshade for Earth, reflecting the sun's energy back into space. When it disappears, oceans warm further and climate change accelerates.
Imagine a hot summer day at the beach, and your car is parked under the blazing sun. When you return to your car, you realise you forgot to unfold the reflective sunshade for the windscreen. Your car is like an oven. That's what happens to Earth as sea ice melts at the poles. Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets act as Earth's sunshades. They reflect the sun's heat energy back into space. This reflection keeps our planet cool and helps maintain the delicate balance of the Earth's climate system.
But climate change is rapidly diminishing the extent of sea ice at the poles. And oceans are warming faster as a result. Just like when when you forget to use the windscreen sunshade, leaving your car exposed to the sun's intense rays, sea ice loss accelerates global warming. As the sea ice melts, large areas of dark, open ocean are revealed, much like an unprotected car dashboard absorbing sunlight. The dark ocean surface, unlike the reflective sea ice, absorbs solar radiation. This absorption leads to ocean warming and creates a feedback loop amplifying global warming.
The consequences go beyond immediate warming. As the oceans warm, they disrupt weather patterns and disturb the climate system's balance. These changes trigger further feedback loops that intensify extreme weather, elevate sea levels, disrupt coastal ecosystems, and destabilise global ocean currents. Climate tipping points are looming, and looking at the charts, may have already commenced. There will irreversible worldwide damage to the environment, ecosystems, and the well-being of humanity.
This year the Sea Ice Extent and Sea Surface Temperature anomalies are tracking off the charts. This underscores the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. Australia and the world must take immediate and decisive action. Ending fossil fuel extraction, use and exports urgently and transitioning to clean energy is essential for safeguarding our planet for current and future generations.