Home LATEST NEWS The Arctic could see more rain than snow within 30 years

The Arctic could see more rain than snow within 30 years


The transition to a rainy Arctic is expected to take place between 2050 and 2080, study finds (New window) from the University of Manitoba, published in the journal Nature Communications. Prior to these new findings, science had determined that the change was to occur between 2070 and 2090.

Principal author and postdoctoral student at the Center for Earth Observation Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Michelle McCrystall, says more than 50% of the rain precipitation that will fall in the Arctic, in place of the snow, will have global implications and one very direct impact on the indigenous populations of the area.

According to the scientist, the biggest changes in rainfall will occur in the fall. During the winter months, snowfall will continue to be predominant, even at the turn of the century.

Michelle McCrystall on a boat in the Arctic.

Lead author of the study, Michelle McCrystall, says the Arctic is at risk of being dominated by rainfall events if global warming stays on its current course.

Photo: Courtesy Michelle McCrystall

Some regions will make the transition sooner than others depending on their temperatures and proximity to the North Pole.

The study’s projections are based on data collected around the world. According to McCrystall, the 2050 to 2080 range in which the transition could occur reflects the variability of all the data used, but the average indicates that it will occur, more specifically, around the year 2070.

Animals will find it difficult to feed

Michelle McCrystall believes that more rain in the Arctic also means more situations with ice sheets forming on or inside the existing snowpack. These could make it difficult to access food for reindeer, caribou and muskoxen.

This can cause big starvation problems and losses in many populations of mammals.

A quote from Michelle McCrystall, lead author of the study

The Arctic is changing so fast that animal life may fail to adapt , said Mark Serreze, study co-author and director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in a written statement.

A muskox in the snow.

Rainfall could alter food access for muskoxen, and other species.

Photo: iStock

He notes that the problem is not only with wild animals, but also with the men and women of the North, whose way of life depends on these species.

Walt Meier, a scientist and colleague of Mark Serreze, who was not on the study, says the transition, which may come decades earlier than expected, means it will likely happen during the lifespan of current generations.

It becomes, for many people, not something that their children or grandchildren will see, but what they themselves will most likely see in their lifetime.

A quote from Mark Serreze, scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

Contribution to rising sea levels

Mr Meier and Ms McCrystall also claim that increased rainfall in the Arctic could contribute to rising sea and ocean levels, not least because they would cause glaciers along the Greenland coast to plunge into the sea. the water.

Raindrops on a glass.

As recently as this year, scientists recorded the first rains at the top of the island of Greenland, when precipitation is usually found in the form of snow or ice in this area.

Photo: Alicia Bradley / Zoe Corville’s Twitter account

The rain could also lead to permafrost melting, adds Michelle McCrystall.

As precipitation warms and increases, it seeps into the soil and allows it to warm up.

Permafrost stores carbon, she points out, and if it thaws, there will be many more greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. The researcher notes that the increase in carbon creates a vicious circle, since the matter contributes to the warming of the atmosphere.

The changes taking place in the Arctic extend beyond its borders.

A quote from Michelle McCrystall, lead author of the study

The team that worked on the study say that if the world is able to stay below 1.5 ° C of warming, the transition to rain-dominated precipitation may not occur in some arctic regions. .

But, if the world stays on its current course, the transition is likely.

With information from Liny Lamberink

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