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Science

Arctic Sea Ice Annual Freeze-up Underway: thank heavens!

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With the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere these days, comes the inexorable wait to see when the Arctic sea ice starts melting, and then waiting to see how far it’ll melt. If nothing else, it’s great for journalists looking for a story. For my money though, I’m a much bigger fan of this time of year, when the Arctic sea ice starts reclaiming ground.

And after reaching the second-lowest extent ever recorded last month, sea ice in the Arctic has begun to refreeze in the face of autumn temperatures. Subsequently, both the Northern Sea Route and the direct route through the Northwest Passage have been closed.

“This is the first time in our charting records that both historic passages opened up in the same year,” said NIC Chief Scientist Dr Pablo Clemente-Colón. “Both of the routes appeared as closed by 22 September.”

Thankfully, this past summer didn’t see a breaking of 2007’s sea ice extent record. Sadly, and a little more concerning, is the news that 2008 did set its own record; “Although last year’s summer sea ice minimum extent record was not broken, a record amount of the thickest multiyear sea ice was actually lost this season impacting the thickness of the sea ice presently found around the North Pole region and setting the stage for more minimum or near-minimum records in upcoming years,” Clemente-Colón said.

So though for the moment, I’m going to take solace in the fact that the Arctic is once again attempting to restake its territory, I can’t help but fear that more records are on their way.

Adapted from ESA Press Release




One comment
  1. Ablakey

    There’s really no solace in the Arctic “retaking its territory”. Single-year sea ice is seasonal. We expect it to show up, and expect it to leave just as easily.

    What there really is to hope for, is a bit of luck in terms of extra cold days to slow down the loss of multi-year ice. Even if there’s no mechanism change to global warming yet, we can always hope for more unusually cold winters than warm ones. =)

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