The polar icecap is thinning and retreating at a breathtaking rate, even in the winter. This has added to the recent findings of British scientists relating to the disastrous thawing at the North Pole.
The reported shrinkage this summer has led to the opening of the Northwest passage, which is still continuing during the winter months with the sea thickness reducing by nearly 20% last winter. Normally the Arctic icecap will recede in the summer months and then grows back again in the winter, the recent finding suggest that the ‘growing back’ period has shortened.
The Centre for Polar Observation representative Dr Katherine Giles recently said the thickness of the Arctic sea ice had shown a slow downward trend over the previous five winters, but now has accelerated. The worrying observation is that the winter air temperature were still very cold, suggesting other factors, such as rising sea temperatures or ocean circulation changes that bring warmer water into the area. These finding strongly suggest that the Arctic is likely to melt far faster than previously thought, with the possibility of the summer icecap vanishing within ten years.
The UCL research team used satellites to enable accurate sea measurement and thickness between 2002 and 2008. Winter sea ice thickness is usually around 8ft.
Royal Naval nuclear submarines had recorded sea ice thickness since 1976, collating data relating to ice thickness above the vessel, this is done by using an upward looking echo-sounder. These findings show a massive 50% reduction in thickness since 1976. In 2007 the sun shone for more days than in recent years, raising water temperatures by a staggering 4.3c above the average expected.
The melting process is simple science, Ice is white, reflecting much of the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere, when melting occurs, darker open ocean is left, this absorbs light and heat, helping to melt more ice. This also makes ice reformation harder in the winter, the process will only accelerate until the ice has completely melted.