Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Melting Arctic ice cap at record

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
With Arctic ice cap at record low this summer, a geography professor predicts serious consequences for the planet.

Geography professor John Yackel says this year’s extreme melt in the Arctic could have serious ramifications for the planet.
Credit: Photo courtesy of John Yackel

Think of a poor hamster on a spinning wheel, caught up by momentum and unable to stop until it's overwhelmed, sent tumbling, crashing out of control inside.

That's the analogy John Yackel, head of the department of geography, makes when he considers the annual summer ice melt in the Arctic, which he's been closely monitoring for the past 15 years -- documenting the ice cover as it's steadily shrunk in the wake of Arctic and global warming.

Thoughts of imminent crashes seem particularly ominous this year as last week marked the unofficial peak, or the end of the summer ice melt, with ice levels more dramatically diminished than at any time since satellite monitoring began 33 years ago.

The previous record low for Arctic sea ice extent, set on Sept. 18, 2007 with a 4.17-million sq.-km. ice cap, was already shattered by the end of August this year when it had melted to below 4-million sq. km.

"This is the smallest minimum ice extent we've ever had, and not just in the satellite record, but probably in the last million years," says Yackel, a sea ice geophysicist and climatologist.

From the patterns he has observed, this year's extreme melt could be the beginning of a frightening trend.

Yackel and the university-based Cryosphere Climate Research Group use satellite technology to research the physical properties of Arctic ice. As recently as the 1980s, most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean was "multi-year ice," -- thick ice that would remain throughout the summer. At that time, the split between multi-year ice and seasonal ice -- ice that would melt away in the summer -- was about 80 per cent multi-year and 20 per cent seasonal.

"In the last 20 years we've almost gotten to the point where we've reversed that ratio," Yackel says, predicting the ice extent that covers the Arctic Ocean "is likely to be gone in the summers within the next 20 to 25 years, if not sooner."

The depleting ice cover would have serious ramifications for the planet. Arctic ice acts as a reflector of sunlight, helping regulate Earth's temperature, cooling the climate.

"When there's no longer that sea ice below the air mass and it's just open ocean, that's when more moisture off the ocean's surface gets into the atmosphere and the water vapor in the atmosphere makes for more violent storms," says Yackel.

"We can also expect to see an increase in storm frequency and storm intensity for most of the world's populated places as the Arctic and Earth continues to warm."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. The original article was written by Heath McCoy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Melting Arctic ice cap at record." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924145143.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2012, September 24). Melting Arctic ice cap at record. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924145143.htm
University of Calgary. "Melting Arctic ice cap at record." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924145143.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins