The loss of sea ice in the Arctic were higher than expected

13.08.2012

The first satellite designed specifically to study the thickness of the polar ice caps of Earth, showed that sea ice in the Arctic disappearing faster than expected.


Preliminary results obtained with the European CryoSat-2 probe, said that last summer of the Arctic Ocean disappeared 900 km ^ (3) of ice. This is 50% higher than most forecasts. At this rate, in a few years, the Arctic will be completely ice-free in summer.

Tools other satellites already shown that the distribution area of summer ice in the Arctic from year to year decreases. This time, it was clear that scientists suspected before: at the same time, a sharp thinning of the ice. For example, in the areas to the north of Canada and Greenland, where ten years ago the summer ice thickness regularly was at around 5-6 m, now it is barely three meters.

Do not be fooled that the disappearance of the summer sea ice will allow humanity to lay hands on Arctic fish stocks and mineral resources (especially oil), as well as open new shipping lanes. In fact, everything is very sad. Without the brilliant Arctic "cover" the sun's rays are not reflected back into space, and absorbed by the ocean, resulting in the Arctic will warm even more than now. The water temperature will rise, and methane deposits on the bottom will melt, going into the atmosphere. Already methane streams are there, then here. And this, by the way, especially the powerful greenhouse gas, which further accelerate global warming. Add to that the rapid melting of Greenland's glaciers and rising sea levels.

The former director of the British Antarctic Survey, Chris Rapley like yet another consequence: "With the further fall of temperature gradient between the Arctic Ocean and the Equator jet stream in the upper atmosphere will become more unstable, which could mean higher volatility forecast in the lower latitudes."

CryoSat-2 was launched on a rocket "Dnepr" from the Baikonur cosmodrome April 8, 2010. Previous satellites monitoring the ice thickness coped poorly. The U.S. probe ICESat made some important measurements of ice thickness, but worked intermittently and managed to cover a few areas, disconnecting in 2009. Besides his lasers can not penetrate through clouds and CryoSat-2 is equipped with a special radar for which there is no interference.

Sea ice cover in the Arctic varies considerably throughout the year, peaking in March. In winter 2004, the volume of sea ice in the central Arctic was approximately 17 thousand km ^ (3), and this winter — only 14 thousand But the real shock was summer rates: about 13 thousand km ^ (3) in 2004 and 7 th . in 2011, it has lost almost half. If the trend continues, the Arctic is completely free of summer ice in ten years.

While these are only preliminary results, the model suggests that the rate of ice loss over time will only increase, so that is something to ponder.

Prepared according to The Guardian.

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