Researchers found that the loss of perennial ice in the East Arctic Ocean, above Europe and Asia, neared 50 percent during that time as some of the ice moved to the West Arctic Ocean, above North America.
The overall decrease in winter Arctic perennial sea ice totaled 730,000 square kilometers [280,000 square miles]--an area the size of Texas. Perennial ice can be three meters [10 feet] thick, or more. It was replaced in the winter by new, seasonal ice, which was only about 0.3 to two meters [one to seven feet] thick and more vulnerable to summer melt. The research was published 7 September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The decrease in perennial ice raises the possibility that Arctic sea ice will retreat to another record low extent this year. This follows four summers of very low ice-cover, as observed by active and passive microwave instruments aboard NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite, the researchers report.
A team of seven scientists, led by Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used satellite data to measure the extent and distribution of perennial and seasonal sea ice in the Arctic. While the total area of all Arctic sea ice was stable in winter, the distribution of seasonal and perennial sea ice changed significantly.
"Recent changes in Arctic sea ice are rapid and dramatic," said Nghiem. "If the seasonal ice in the East Arctic Ocean were to be removed by summer melt, a vast ice-free area would open up. Such an ice-free area would have profound impacts on the environment, as well as on marine transportation and commerce."
The researchers are examining what caused the rapid decrease in the perennial sea ice. Data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Boulder, Colorado, suggest that winds pushed perennial ice from the East to the West Arctic Ocean and moved ice through the Fram Strait, a deep passage between Greenland and Spitsbergen, Norway. This movement of ice out of the Arctic is a different mechanism for ice shrinkage than the melting of Arctic sea ice, but it produces the same result: a reduction in the amount of perennial Arctic sea ice.
The researchers say that if the sea ice cover continues to decline, the surrounding ocean will warm, further accelerating summer ice melts and impeding fall freeze-ups. This longer melt season will, in turn, further diminish the Arctic ice cover.
Nghiem cautioned that the recent Arctic changes are not well understood and that many questions remain. "It's vital that we continue to closely monitor this region, using both satellite and surface-based data," he said.
The study was funded by NASA.
Harvey Leifert | American Geophysical Union
UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine
Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences