The strongest and oldest layer of ice in the Arctic has fractured again in the space of six months. As stated in the The Guardian, it is the first time this ice field north of Greenland has started to break up, as even during the summer, it is normally frozen over.
According to scientists this area must be one of the last places affected by climate change. The glacial region remains a solidified mass thanks to Siberian currents which bring ice to the coast, creating a stack of ice 4 metres thick on average, and sometimes with peaks around 20 metres high.
Senior researcher Walt Meiner from US National Snow and Ice Data explained to The Guardian that “The ice there has nowhere else to go so it piles up. On average, it’s over four metres thick and can be piled up into ridges 20 metres thick or more. This thick, compacted ice is generally not easily moved around.”
The cracks appearing in the ice field is an alarming sign of the effects of climate change in this arctic region. The meteorologist Thomas Lavergne, even said in a tweet that it was “scary.” In his post he showed an satellite image showing water taking over this area which is normally frozen over:
— Thomas Lavergne (@lavergnetho) 13 août 2018
He added, “I cannot tell how long this open water patch will remain open, but even if it closes in few days from now, the harm will be done: the thick old sea ice will have been pushed away from the coast, to an area where it will melt more easily.”
However the Guardian article noted that, the two fractures which appeared on the ice field were in fact predominately due to wind than due to heavy melt. Even though these cracks were produced during periods of high temperatures, notably a peak of 17°C in August.
Scientists forecast that sometime between now and 2030 or 2050, there will no longer be ice fields in the Arctic Ocean during the summer.