September 15th, records showed the Artic Sea ice had reached its second lowest summer extent since we’ve been keeping record with satellites around the 1970s.
One reason for the low extent is because of the Siberian heatwave earlier this year that caused the ice to melt earlier than normal and the earlier the melt season occurs, the more ice we lose. However, not only are we losing ice, but the ice is also thinning.
Due to warmer ocean water creeping up to the bottom of arctic ice, warming is happening from the bottom as well, further adding to the thinning of the ice. Thin ice melts quicker.
Now, each summer the ice melts due to temperatures warming up and then it grows back and re-covers the arctic sea during the winter. So why does this new information matter? Because less ice leads to more open water.
Sea ice reflects much of the sun’s radiation back into space, whereas dark, ice-free ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s energy and this can lead to disruptions in the jet stream leading to that can cause extreme weather patterns such as heat waves and extreme winters, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and disruption for coastal arctic communities.
They are already seeing the effects with sea level rise and food insecurities emerging as hunting becomes more difficult.
We’ll keep an eye on it each year and continue giving you the latest details.