Arctic Sea Ice, The Thinnest Ever Going Into Spring

April 8, 2009 / No Comments

The Arctic ice is the thinnest it has ever been at this time of the year.  What’s more, it’s spring and summer is on the way. Researchers are saying that some 90% of the Arctic ice is just 1-2 years old. The researchers are with NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.

arctic ocean Arctic Sea Ice, The Thinnest Ever Going Into Spring

The Arctic Ocean

“We’re not set up well for summertime,” ice data center scientist Walt Meier said Monday. “We’re in a very precarious situation.”

Apparently sea ice needs to survive for two years before it becomes the type of thick sea ice that is key.

Thick sea ice, 10 feet thick or more, can be found from the northern boundaries of Greenland and Canada almost to Russia. But not this year. The ice barely extends the center of the Arctic Circle.

This year is an all-time low— just 378,000 square miles, down 43 percent from last year.

“Thick ice traps ocean heat; it keeps the planet in its current state of balance,” said the director of the Center for the Study of Earth from Space at the University of Colorado and NASA’s former chief ice scientist. “When we start to diminish that, the state of balance is likely to change, tip one way or another.”

baffin island Arctic Sea Ice, The Thinnest Ever Going Into Spring

Sea ice is also important because it reflects sunlight away from Earth. The less see ice there is the more heat is absorbed by the ocean, heating up the planet even more. That can cause changes in global weather patterns.

Younger, thin ice accounts for about 70 percent of the ice cover, however this year it is 90 percent.

What is it they say? “It’s going to be a long summer.” Or was it winter?

Source: Sina
Images by toddraden & nileguide