Scientists warn of accelerated Arctic ice melting
Ice caps decreasing, temperatures remain above freezing
Summer's record-breaking melt in the Arctic is part of an increasingly growing trend with profound implications, scientists warn. Adding to the alarming news is that Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming thinner and more vulnerable.
The latest data is still being processed by one of the institute's sea ice specialists, Dr. Sebastian Gerland, who says that though conditions vary year by year a pattern is clear.
The ongoing melt is set to continue for at least another week, as the peak is typically reached in mid-September. Temperatures here remain above freezing.
The Norwegian Polar Institute's International Director Kim Holmen told the BBC that the speed of the melting was faster than expected.
"It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago," Dr Holmen said.
"And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us."
Lance, the institute's icebreaker has been deployed to research conditions between Svalbard and Greenland, the main route through which ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean.
Dr. Edmond Hansen, one of the leading scientists said he was "amazed" at the size and speed of this year's melt.
"As a scientist, I know that this is unprecedented in at least as much as 1,500 years. It is truly amazing - it is a huge dramatic change in the system," Dr. Hansen said.
"This is not some short-lived phenomenon - this is an ongoing trend. You lose more and more ice and it is accelerating - you can just look at the graphs, the observations, and you can see what's happening."
Dr. Hansen says Lance was docked at Norway's Arctic research station at Ny-Alesund on Svalbard.
Key data on the ice comes from satellites but also from measurements made by a range of different techniques.
The Norwegians also sent teams out on to the floating ice to drill holes into it and extract cores to determine the ice's origin.
By flying transects over the ice, a picture of the Arctic ice's thickness emerges. The latest data is still being processed by one of the institute's sea ice specialists, Dr. Sebastian Gerland, who says that though conditions vary year by year a pattern is clear.
"In the region where we work we can see a general trend to thinner ice - in the Fram Strait and at some coastal stations."
Dr. Gerland says that additional warming can take place even if ice remains in a far thinner state.
"It means there is more light penetrating through the ice - that depends to a high degree on the snow cover but once it has melted the light can get through," he said.
"If the ice is thinner there is more light penetrating and that light can heat the water."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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