Arctic sea ice has thinned by 65 percent in 37 years


A NASA satellite image shows swirls of sea ice near Greenland.

New study includes data from the pre-satellite era

Staff Report

FRISCO — After analyzing data from multiple sources, scientists say Arctic sea ice is thinning much faster than they thought, and the meltdown is not slowing down.

Between 1975 and 2012, ice in the central Arctic thinned by 65 percent on average, and by 85 percent in September, when the ice cover is at a minimum, according to a new study published in The Cryosphere.

“The ice is thinning dramatically,” said lead author Ron Lindsay, a climatologist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “We knew the ice was thinning, but we now have additional confirmation on how fast, and we can see that it’s not slowing down.” Continue reading

Environment: Feds eye new Arctic drilling rules


Feds are seeking public comment on new rules for Arctic Sea drilling.

Major spill would devastate Arctic ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed new Arctic drilling rules would require fossil fuel companies to have a spare drilling rig available in case they lose control of the primary well. The new rule is aimed at ensuring that companies operating in the Arctic are full prepared for the region’s extreme conditions.

As released in late February, the rules  focus solely on offshore exploration drilling operations within the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas. The proposed rule is open for public comment through mid-April. Comment HERE. Continue reading

Climate: NASA study confirms global sea ice decline


Antarctic sea ice has expanded in the past few years, but overall, the planet is still losing an area of ice the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined each year. bberwyn photo.

Growth in Antarctic ice extent doesn’t cancel out Arctic decline

Staff Report

FRISCO — NASA researchers who took a close look at both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice say that, overall, Earth has been losing ice at an average rate of about 13,500 square miles per year since 1979, equivalent to an area about the size of Maryland. Continue reading

January Arctic sea ice extent was 3d-lowest on record


Arctic sea ice extent is declining every month of the year by at least 3 percent on a decadal scale. Graph courtesy NSIDC.

Average temps over parts of the Arctic Sea ranged from 7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average

Staff Report

FRISCO — Arctic sea ice extent for January was the third-lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which reported an average sea ice extent of about 5.26 million square miles for the month. That’s 351,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average, and 19,000 square miles above the record low for the month observed in 2011.

During the coldest time of year, the deviations from average are not as great as during the summer, but the the linear rate of decline for January extent over the satellite record is 3.2 percent per decade. Continue reading

Climate study says Arctic sea ice meltdown could pause for years due to natural variability

Researchers are trying to identify the consequences of dwindling sea ice. Photo courtesy University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Researchers are trying to identify the consequences of dwindling sea ice. Photo courtesy University of Alaska Fairbanks.

‘It is quite conceivable that the current period of near zero sea-ice trend could extend for a decade or more …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even with a strong human-caused global warming signal in the Arctic, natural climate variability will be a big factor in the pace of the sea ice meltdown in the next few decades.

A new modeling study that included scientists with the CU-Boulder Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences shows that sea ice could remain relatively stable for 10 years or more due to natural factors. Continue reading

Climate: Arctic meltdown to shake up fish diversity

Arctic sea ice receded to the second-lowest extent on record this year. MAP COURTESY NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER.

Open water in the Arctic will shake up the species mix in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Changes ahead, outcome uncertain

Staff Report

FRISCO — Melting Arctic sea ice is breaking down the natural barrier between Pacific and Atlantic fish species, with as-yet unknown consequences for ocean ecosystems, scientists said this week in a new study published in Nature Climate Change.

The last time the environmental conditions allowed such large-scale transfer to occur was nearly three million years ago during the opening of the Bering Strait, which facilitated the spread of mostly Pacific marine species toward the Atlantic. Continue reading

Siberian ‘ice wedges’ help track Arctic climate history

Temperature spike seen in late 1800s

Exposed ice wedges at the coast of the Siberian island Muostakh. Photo courtesy Dr. Thomas Opel/AWI.

Exposed ice wedges at the coast of the Siberian island Muostakh have helped scientists gain a better understanding of Arctic climate. Photo courtesy Dr. Thomas Opel/AWI.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Close scrutiny of giant underground ice wedges in Siberia have helped climate scientists gain a better understanding of temperature trends in the Arctic.

After picking apart the ice layers year by year and analyzing chemical signatures, researchers with the Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute concluded that a gradual 7,000-year increase in temperatures was punctuated by a sharp upward kink at the start of the industrial revolution, as heat-trapping greenhouse gases started to build up in the atmosphere. Continue reading


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