Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Arctic wintertime sea ice extent is among lowest on record

26.03.2018

Sea ice in the Arctic grew to its annual maximum extent last week, and joined 2015, 2016 and 2017 as the four lowest maximum extents on record, according to scientists at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA.

On March 17, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record, at about 23,200 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) larger than the record low maximum reached on March 7, 2017.


On March 17, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record.

Credits: NASA/ Nathan Kurtz

More significantly from a scientific perspective, the last four years reached nearly equally low maximum extents and continued the decades-long trend of diminishing sea ice in the Arctic. This year's maximum extent was 448,000 square miles (1.16 million square kilometers) -- an area larger than Texas and California combined - below the 1981 to 2010 average maximum extent.

Every year, the sea ice cover blanketing the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas thickens and expands during the fall and winter, reaching its maximum yearly extent sometime between late February and early April. The ice then thins and shrinks during the spring and summer until it reaches its annual minimum extent in September. Arctic sea ice has been declining both during the growing and melting seasons in recent decades.

The decline of the Arctic sea ice cover has myriad effects, from changes in climate and weather patterns to impacts on the plants and animals dependent on the ice, and to the indigenous human communities that rely on them. The disappearing ice is also altering shipping routes, increasing coastal erosion and affecting ocean circulation.

"The Arctic sea ice cover continues to be in a decreasing trend and this is connected to the ongoing warming of the Arctic," said Claire Parkinson, senior climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "It's a two-way street: the warming means less ice is going to form and more ice is going to melt, but also, because there's less ice, less of the sun's incident solar radiation is reflected off, and this contributes to the warming."

The Arctic has gone through repeated warm episodes this winter, with temperatures climbing more than 40 degrees above average in some regions. The North Pole even experienced temperatures above the freezing point for a few days in February.

In mid-March, cooler temperatures and winds pushed out the edge of the sea ice pack and caused a late surge in ice growth that brought the maximum extent closer in line with the past few years.

In February, a large area of open water appeared in the sea ice cover north of Greenland, within the multiyear ice pack -- the Arctic's oldest and thickest ice. Most of the opening has refrozen but the new ice is expected to be thinner and more fragile, and a new opening might appear during the melt season. This could make the ice in this region more mobile and prone to exiting the Arctic this summer through either the Fram or Nares straits, ultimately melting in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

"This old, thicker ice is what we expect to provide stability to the Arctic sea ice system, since we expect that ice not to be as vulnerable to melting out as thinner, younger ice," said Alek Petty, a sea ice researcher at Goddard. "As ice in the Arctic becomes thinner and more mobile, it increases the likelihood for rapid ice loss in the summer."

Despite the fact that this year's melt season will begin with a low winter sea ice extent, this doesn't necessarily mean that we will see another record low summertime extent.

"A lot will depend on what the wind and temperature conditions will be in the spring and summer," Parkinson said.

Starting March 22, Operation IceBridge, NASA's aerial survey of polar ice, is flying over the Arctic Ocean to map the distribution and thickness of sea ice. In the fall, NASA will launch a new satellite mission, the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which will continuously monitor how sea ice thickness is changing across the Arctic.

For NSIDC's analysis: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2018/03/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-second-lowest/

Robert Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/arctic-wintertime-sea-ice-extent-is-among-lowest-on-record

Further reports about: Arctic Arctic Ocean Arctic sea ice NASA ice extent melt season sea ice

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Abrupt cloud clearing events over southeast Atlantic Ocean are new piece in climate puzzle
23.07.2018 | University of Kansas

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place

23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

Abrupt cloud clearing events over southeast Atlantic Ocean are new piece in climate puzzle

23.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

The Maturation Pattern of the Hippocampus Drives Human Memory Deve

23.07.2018 | Science Education

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>