Every year, the sun normally set on the North Pole around mid-October cuing the sea ice to spread over the Arctic Ocean. However, troubling data has emerged showing that sea ice growth has slowed down to almost a crawl and it has scientists very concerned.
A spike in Arctic temperatures is resulting in ice melting when it should be growing rapidly. Scientists say that the heat this year is ‘off the charts’ compared to previous data and temperatures have been as much as 20℃ hotter than normal.
PhD student, Zack Labe, shared on Twitter an incredibly unsettling graph that shows the remarkable record low ice cover this year in the Arctic and Antarctic. Greenpeace’s EnergyDesk has reported that this graph is the result of two contributing factors.
One factor is that Arctic ice usually starts to reform with the onset of winter, but this year, it’s weeks late. The other factor is that the ice in the Antarctic is melting much more rapidly than usual, which meteorologist Eric Holthaus believes could be the result of a strong El Niño effect last year.
“There is a lot of energy still in the ocean,” says Mark Serreze, director of Snow and Ice Data Centre at University of Colorado. “Until the ocean cools off, you really can’t form much sea ice. We are headed to a world in which we are going to have no sea ice in summer at some point.”
Serreze estimates that sea ice could disappear in the summer in the not so distant future, saying, “it will be but a seasonable feature.” However, Serreze says that this shocking spike in Arctic temperatures has begun to decline, but the record lows for sea ice extent are not to be ignored.
Brian Kahn of Climate Central writes, “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and it’s possible that the region could see ice-free summers as early as the 2030s. If carbon pollution continues at its current pace, it would likely make ice-free summers the norm by mid-century.”