NOAA scientists have been investigating why the arctic sea is seeing thinner sea ice. NOAA scientists have found that summertime sea ice is melting faster than any had ever predicted. Thirty five NOAA researchers were conducting studies back in April 23, 2008. Director of the chemistry study at NOAA’s Earth System research A.R. Ravishankara, said back then that “Capturing in detail the processes behind the large and surprisingly rapid transformation is a unique opportunity for understanding climate changes occurring elsewhere. Observations showed that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the entire globe.
Summer sea ice has decreased by approximately 49% compared to 1978 to 2000’s average. The ice is thinning and that is causing great concern. It is said that transportation, industry and biomass burning in Europe, Asia and North America are emitting trace gases as well as airborne particles which are causing pollution in the polar region. This is said to form an ‘Arctic Haze’ every year in winter and spring. A host of scientists believe that this is what is causing the polar to melt so fast. Scientists/researchers, have discovered that more than 90% of the sea ice in the Arctic is only 1-2 years old now.
This means the ice much thinner now and so much more vulnerable than it has been in the last 3 decades. The Arctic is now said to be in a very precarious situation and it’s not going to get any better. While young sea ice in the Arctic melts in the spring and summer quite often, much of it has survived in the past and become thicker. But over the past two years have been so warm and this has produced more thin ice at the top of the world. Normal winter one sees relatively thick sea ice, often exceeded ten feet in thickness. This extends from the northern boundaries of Greenland and Canada and almost reaches Russia.
But the ice cap barely penetrates the centre or the Arctic Circle now. Thick sea ice has hit an all time low and the amount of older sea ice which has been lost in the last couple of years is bigger than Texas! The erratic changes in weather patterns has seen a couple of major melt seasons in the last couple of years. Hopefully the hotter weather will settle down so that recovery of the perennial sea ice pack is possible. If temperatures continue to remain as they are, the ice conditions of 20-30 years ago may never return. This means that eventually, the Arctic will be lost.
One may ask why sea ice is so important. Sea ice is important because its whiteness helps reflect major sunlight away from the Earth. The more the sea ice melts, the hotter Earth becomes because the dark ocean absorbs the heat. This type of warming can be detrimental to Earth because it can alter weather patterns dramatically. Animals such as polar bears, will suffer as well due to the alteration of the ecosystems. Thick ice traps ocean heat and helps to balance the planet’s weather. When there is an increase in the heat, the balance is altered. It the tilts one way or another, thus to extreme cold or extreme heat.
Scientists state that the Arctic is somewhat like a huge refrigerator for the Earth. Now that the sea ice has shrunk to a rate of approximately 3%, scientist have grave concerns. Thin ice (ice which is deemed younger) accounts for 70% of the usual ice cover. But it has now reached 90% and more scientists have become more concerned now that they know that global warming is affecting the other pole as well. Disappearing Antarctic coastlines and ice shelves have been noticed. An entire ice shelf has disappeared. This was the Wordie Ice Shelf which was on the western end of the Antarctic peninsular. Back in 1966, this was 772 square miles. To make matters even worse, approximately 4,500 square miles of the Larsen Ice Shelf has disappeared as well. This all shows profound and unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming.