The scenario which scientists have issued repeated warnings about is finally starting to happen. The old Arctic ice has begun to gradually melt, with NASA already reporting signs of considerable thinning. Scientists have emphasized once again the importance of taking drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions in hopes of preventing the worst-case scenario.
NASA researchers who have extensively analyzed the conditions in the Arctic Ocean and the extreme north of our planet have noticed how human activity lead to increasing melting of seasonal ice into the ocean. However, this year they have noticed that even the older ice that is not supposed melt and just stay frozen for decades, is showing a significant reduction in its density.
The old Artic ice serves as a sort of defense line against global warming by protecting the ice cap’s integrity as the season changed. However, this system may soon unravel and the ancient itself may be undermined because of increasingly warmer temperatures.
Using decades worth of observational data of the Arctic ice, NASA scientists have developed a visualization model of the trends of the ice cap, how it shrinking and grows with seasons with seasons, since 1984. What they discovered was that the old Artic ice is not as extensive or as thick as it once was. More specifically, they found that the minimum ice extent for 2017 was a statistical tie with 2007 for the second lowest ice expansion ever recorded.
Scientists used data from a variety of sources to keep tracking of changes of the ice at the Arctic, but primarily they used satellite passive microwave instruments. The technology was developed in the early 2000s and they measure the overall brightness temperature of the sea ice. The ice has a unique signature based on its microwave energy which also depends on a series of factors such as its temperature, surface texture, salinity, and the layer of snow on top. Scientists used this signature to identify each type of sea ice and track it as it moves in the Arctic Ocean.
Although some scientists are hopeful about the Paris Agreement and its capacity to curb the rate of carbon emissions, others are less optimistic. They fear that with the current trajectory, in a few decades, as early as 2030 there might not be any old Arctic ice left in September, where the minimum coverage of ice is always recorded.
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