Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dramatic Implications of Melting Arctic Sea Ice

New data suggests that Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than expected. The reduction of sea ice could further warm ocean temperatures and exacerbate greenhouse gas induced global warming which would cause ocean levels to rise. The data suggests that global warming and rising greenhouse gases could be contributing factors.

As reported by the CBC, Arctic sea ice could be completely gone by 2022.According to the European Space Agency the ice is melting 50 percent faster than previously expected, so fast in fact that there may be no Arctic ice might completely melt during the summers in 10 years. This finding comes from an analysis of the data from the CryoSat-2 probe that studies the thickness of Arctic ice. According to this satellite, 900 cubic kilometers of ice have disappeared every year since 2004. In 2004 there was approximately 13,000 cubic km of sea ice at the end of summer, in 2011 that number had shrunk to 7,000 cubic kilometers of ice.

The satellite data was corroborated by data obtained from NASA planes flying over the Arctic and submarines making measurements via sonar from beneath the ice.

Arctic ice reflects 80 percent of the sunlight that shines down on the region, without the ice that sunlight would be absorbed by the water. This could cause ocean temperatures to rise which would release methane stored on the ocean floor. Huge amounts of methane released into the atmosphere could be a tipping point from which the earth's climate would not recover.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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