For the first time in the record, Arctic sea ice in Siberia is not forming in October: Last month, at the end of the summer melt season, the extent of Arctic sea ice had dwindled to the second-lowest level in the satellite record, as temperatures in the region soared into a record-breaking highs. And now, when the annual freeze is usually underway, ocean temperatures in the Laptev Sea have risen as high as 5° Celsius above average.
By Meteor Blades
The Laptev Sea usually performs as an “ice factory” as a result of offshore winds that speed ice formation. This, climate scientists say, has been caused by warmer temperatures in Siberia and the “Atlantification” of the Arctic Ocean with the much warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This alters normal stratification of temperature layers in the ocean, bringing warmer water hundreds of meters higher and melting the sea ice from below.
This situation has been going on, gradually, for years. Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University, told The Guardian, “2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly
changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century.”
Thomas Krumpen, a sea ice physicist and climate scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, told VICE, “The rapid retreat and low ice extent in the Laptev Sea this summer is truly exceptional and wasn’t really predicted by models. It basically tells us that the interaction between ice, ocean, and atmosphere is very complex and not fully understood.”
Said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, “This continues a streak of very low extents. The last 14 years, 2007 to 2020, are the lowest 14 years in the satellite record starting in 1979.”
Among the changes is the disappearance of older, thicker ice. Overall, Arctic sea ice is now half as thick as it was in 1980. Meier said all this contributes to what models show will be ice-free summers sometimes between 2030 and 2050.
“It’s a matter of when, not if.”
(Originally appeared at DailyKos)
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