The Arctic’s thickest sea ice is breaking apart for the primary time on file


However latest satellite tv for pc imagery reveals that a number of the Arctic’s oldest ice has been changed by miles of open water for the primary time on file, shocking scientists and ice screens.

“This was the realm that was seen because the final bastion, the place we would see these adjustments come final, however they’ve arrived,” mentioned Walt Meier, a senior analysis scientist with the Nationwide Snow and Ice Knowledge Heart.

Sea ice off of northern Greenland is far thicker than elsewhere within the Arctic as a result of, in response to Meier, as ice drifts throughout the Arctic from Siberia, it’s compacted in opposition to Greenland’s rugged coast.

However this yr has proven that even the densest sea ice isn’t impervious to excessive temperatures.

In late February and early March, summerlike heat and winds out of the south resulted in the same ice breakup within the area.

“We noticed this happen first earlier this yr … which is de facto notably uncommon within the sense that it was nonetheless winter there, so it is typically very chilly.”

Keld Qvistgaard, a senior ice adviser with the Greenland Ice Service, says it is attainable that the present breakup is related to the one which appeared in February. However the present soften is way extra intensive than what was noticed in late winter, and far bigger than he is ever seen earlier than.

Satellite imagery captured on August 21, 2018, shows the unprecedented retreat of sea ice off the northern coast of Greenland.

“On this case, [the open water is] 20-30 miles extensive and goes all the way in which from the northeast off Greenland to the northern tip, and even additional west,” Qvistgaard mentioned. “I have been on this enterprise for 26 years and I do not recall that I’ve seen a breakup this large.”

What this implies for the way forward for the Arctic

Although the present sea ice breakup is unprecedented, Meier and Qvistgaard pressured that that is solely a single occasion in a comparatively small geographic space.

However it’s according to different adjustments to ice cowl that scientists have noticed within the area.

“It truly is one other indication of the modified Arctic, an Arctic that’s coated by extra seasonal ice — ice that melts away each summer season, thinner ice cowl and a extra cellular ice cowl,” Meier mentioned.

Global warning: Arctic melt

Typically, the lack of sea ice does have implications for the worldwide local weather.

As sea ice melts, daylight coming into the environment that will usually be mirrored again into area is instead absorbed by the dark blue of the open ocean, additional heating the water and the encompassing air. This kick-starts a vicious cycle, leading to much more melting of sea ice and ocean warmth absorption.

“Lengthy-term, it is clear that the ice is extra damaged up and thinner and weaker, so that is in all probability going to occur once more a minimum of sometimes. How usually? It is onerous to say,” Meier mentioned. “This can nonetheless in all probability be the final space to lose ice utterly throughout the summer season, however it’s extra weak than we had beforehand thought.”

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