I have had the fortune of exploring the world’s polar regions over the past two decades. It has been an amazing journey of pushing the limits of human endurance, supporting handicapped adventurers and raising funds and awareness for all who travel with me to the ends of the Earth. But perhaps most salient to my trips, I have personally witnessed the depletion of Arctic sea ice while skiing to the North Pole on 17 separate expeditions.
In 2005, I embarked on an International Climate Change Expedition to ski from Siberia to the Geographic North Pole to gather data on the Arctic Ocean. I also worked with climate scientists to build weather stations that detect where the sea ice was moving and temperature fluctuations. The most influential climate scientists of our time tell me they believe that sea ice is melting at an alarming rate, and it is very likely that this is irreversible. Since then, I have dedicated my life to protecting this planet.
Arctic sea ice extent has been measured by satellites since the 1970s. The Arctic Ocean once froze reliably every year. Those days are now over.
In December 2017, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its latest research, which analyzes the state of the frozen ocean at the top of our world. This year’s observations confirm that the Arctic shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen state it was in just 20 years ago. There are now just 6.2 million square miles of sea ice, about a million square miles fewer than were typical in the 1990s.
As the sea surface melts, it grows darker and absorbs more heat, causing more melting. This accelerated melting can disrupt gulf streams and cause a rise in sea levels, and there’s no end in sight for these trends.
We all need to do everything we can to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and support renewable energy. Or I am going to have to start organizing swimming expeditions to the North Pole.
Doug Stoup will speak at Connect 4 on August 17 at noon.