The evidence of global warming has been stacking up over the years and a recent study has shown that some of the thickest sea ice on the planet is now breaking up for the first time in history. Greenland normally sees some of the densest ice in the world, with pressure ridges in excess of 70 feet in certain locations. However, even this area of the world is incapable of maintaining year-round sea ice anymore.
What was once consistent annual sea ice is now miles of open sea, as evidenced by satellite imagery.
The area off Greenland accounts for some of the thickest sea ice on the planet thanks to its geography. Large ice drifts start their journey in Siberia and float across the Arctic Ocean, slamming into the coast of Greenland where it compacts to great depths.
High temperatures plagued this area of the world this year. February and March saw temperatures that you usually see in July and August. The result was a significant breakup of ice in areas that had never in history seen breakups. This was late winter.
Now, the thick ice continues to bust up at an alarming rate. The summer heat has resulted in the current breakup being much more severe than we saw in the late winter. In terms of numbers, the breakup is nearly 30 miles wide. Experts agree that they’ve never seen a swath of open ocean that large in this particular area before.
In the big scope of things, 30 miles isn’t exactly a huge swath of sea, but it falls in line with other occurrences in the area that point to serious ice changes. Simply put, the Arctic is covered by more sea ice than ever before in history. That means that we can expect a larger amount of ice to melt each summer and a generally thinner cover ice throughout the year.
The effects of the melting ice only perpetuate the cycle. In the past, sunlight was reflected off the thick ice. Now, the ocean is absorbing the sunlight and heating the surrounding water, which, in turn, only causes more melt.
There’s no doubt that the weakening sea ice will affect the rest of the world’s climate, and it’s yet one more reason to get serious about battling global warming.