Arctic’s Strongest Sea Ice Breaks Up For First Time on Record
Arctic sea ice works as the planet’s air conditioner in that it keeps the polar regions cold and helps keep the global climate stable, according to the NSIDC. Sea ice has a bright white surface so that nearly 80% of the sunlight that strikes it is reflected back into space. When sea ice melts, it exposes the darker ocean surface. The dark water does not reflect solar energy but instead absorbs 90% of the sunlight while heating the ocean and causing Arctic temperatures to rise further. In climate science, this is called the albedo effect, and, it is a vicious feedback loop that should scare the bejeebus out of people.
The Arctic Ocean’s thickest and oldest sea ice is located to the north of Greenland and in the Canadian Archipelago. The seawater in this area is frozen, even in the summer. The media has reported, without mentioning climate change of course, on this freakish weather year with records that have been broken for heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires in the world’s temperate zones; it also broke records in the Arctic, the fastest warming region on Earth. In an ominous sign of biosphere collapse, The Guardianreports that these frozen waters have been opened up not once, but twice so far this year due to warm winds (that tear the ice from where it’s fastened at the coastal bedrock) as well as climate change driven heatwaves in the northern hemisphere. This has never happened before and prompted Thomas Lavergne, a scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute in a retweet to describe the phenomenon as “scary”. As we continue to pump even more carbon from fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere we rapidly heat the Arctic and we should count on more and more severe and unprecedented weather events.