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Image: Communications Earth & Environment a Sea ice concentration (%) from AMSR-2(ASI) during the Polarstern transect (red line) through the Wandel Sea, b sea ice concentration (%) from the NSIDC-CDR for the Wandel Sea from June 1 through August 31 (black with plus signs). Solid blue line shows the 1979–2020 climatology. Dashed and dotted blue lines provide 10/90th and 5/95th percentiles, c time series of annual minimum sea ice concentration (%) from daily NSIDC CDR data (blue lines as in b).

Climate Change

“Last Ice Area” Melting Faster Than Expected

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The Wandel Sea and nearby waters north of Canada and Greenland, long known as the “last ice area” because climate scientists previously believed it would weather rising temperatures for decades, may not be as stable as previously thought. Last summer scientists were shocked to discover sea ice in the area was low enough for a ship to pass through. Now, a new study in Communications Earth & Environment has found climate change contributed to the thinned sea ice. Unusually strong winds were the proximate force that pushed ice out of the region, but Arctic warming has significantly thinned ice, and thicker ice would have resisted those winds. The area is especially important because it could become a last refuge for polar bears and other animals that depend on solid sea ice.

“It’s called the Last Ice Area for a reason. We thought it was kind of stable. It’s just pretty shocking. In 2020, this area melted out like crazy,” study co-author Mike Steele told the AP.

Sources: Associated PressNew York Times $, The Independent

Featured image courtesy of  Communications Earth & Environment, Accelerated sea ice loss in the Wandel Sea points to a change in the Arctic’s Last Ice Area

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media (images added by editor).

Related story: Ice Shelf Holding Back Antarctic Glacier Breaking Up

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