You know, I really thought I was done with the ‘Arctic Ice’ stories. One would have thought that the entire world by now knew that it had not been a good year for the sea-ice up north. Record losses, the disappearance of the Northwest Passage for the first time in millennia; really not a good year at all!
But the Arctic is fighting back, even if it seems to be a losing battle.
Data from the NASA Earth Observatory has shown that the Arctic sea-ice has been re-freezing at a record pace. Over a ten day period in late October and early November, a new record was set with some 58,000 square miles of ice reforming per day.
Nevertheless, despite its best attempts, the sea-ice is still well below the median extent recorded over the past 25 years. In the summer of 1980 for example, the North Pole was covered by an ice-sheet that was comparable in size to the continental United States of America. This summer however, that same ice-sheet wouldn’t have covered the states west of the Mississippi.
Before we hit on what it is that has caused this turn of events, the NASA release has this to say about the ‘not so surprising’ regrowth of sea-ice;
The more ice that survives the summer melt, the less open water there is for new ice to grow. When summertime ice extent hits a record low, on the other hand, large areas of open water provide room for the ice to grow once temperatures cool off enough.
The images to the right (or left) show the extent of sea-ice on September the 16th (bottom) and on November the 14th (top). The yellow line encompasses the area in which there was at least 15 percent ice cover in at least half of the Novembers in the record (median sea ice extent).
As for what has caused it, let’s be really clear here;
IT IS NOT ALONE GLOBAL WARMING!
To say that the dangerously low amount of ice in the Arctic this year (and in previous years) was entirely the fault of human initiated global warming would be naïve and foolish. The real causes are many and various.
The fluctuations in the Arctic climate are among the hardest to diagnose for climatologists and scientists the world round. So to entirely blame global warming would be the height of ignorance. And while a catalyst might be laid at our feet for letting the earth degrade, a combination of cyclical patterns have increased the problems the Arctic is facing.
Consider that the ice-sheets of our planet have for a long time reflected much of the heat back in to space. Now we may have begun a process in which the ice decreased a little, and again, we may not have. But the problem is that with less ice, comes less reflectivity. Thus, the heat that was reflected goes in to the waters, warming them further, and diminishing the ice further. It is a cyclical problem that may or may not be our fault alone, or it may be a problem that has just crept up unluckily.
The Daily Green – Arctic Sea Ice Re-Freezing at Record Pace
Top Image Courtesy of wili_hybrid via Flickr