No More Ice?
What if the world no longer had an Arctic ice cap? Well, that might be the case in 50 years. The National Geographic article “Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low- Extreme Weather to Come?” shows us how much ice we have left.
“Arctic sea ice is thawing at a historic rate, scientists say. In fact, a recent analysis of satellite data “utterly obliterates” the previous record, set in 2007.”
This quote is saying how the Arctic ice has shrunk from 2.7 million miles in the 1970s and 80s to 1.58 million square miles in the present day. That is close to 1 million miles of ice lost in the last 40 years. If the ice keeps on shrinking in the future as much as it has, then we will be in lots of trouble. The image below shows how munch the ice has melted, the yellow line represents the ice border that was there in 1970s/80s and the solid white area represents the place where the ice is today (2012).
Illustration courtesy SVS/NASA Link to photo’s website
Scientists think the old record—1.61 million square miles (4.17 million square kilometers) on September 18, 2007—was made possible by a “perfect storm” of conditions that included an unusually persistent weather pattern known as an anticyclone, or high-pressure ridge, in the region that led to clear skies, which allowed more sunlight to reach the ice and melt it.
This is what scientists are saying about why the ice is melting so quickly. But Julienne Stroeve, a PhD research scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center begs to differ.
“There’s no persistent weather pattern that’s emerged this summer,” Stroeve said. “The ice is just thinner than it used to be. So it doesn’t really matter so much what the summer weather does anymore—the thin ice melts out easier during the summer melt season.”
Stroeve is countering what scientists say about the “perfect storm” of conditions that allowed the sunlight to melt the ice. The quote above is arguing that the ice is much thinner that it used to be and no matter what the summer weather is like, the ice will still melt much easier than it used to.
Why is the ice melting so much faster than it used to? The main reason is global warming. Since the earth is slowly heating up, the ice caps are starting to melt at an alarming pace. If the ice keeps on shrinking in the future as much as it has, then we will be in lots of trouble. Since the ice is melting much quicker, it helps fuel extreme weather. The water vapor that is absorbed into the atmosphere from the melted ice allows more heat to enter the atmosphere which can lead to more severe weather and higher temperatures. With more Arctic ice melting, the more severe weather we will have; everything is connected.