Winter winds push the old Arctic sea ice into the melting zone

Winter winds push the old Arctic sea ice into the melting zone
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Winter winds push the old Arctic sea ice into the melting zone

Winter winds push the old Arctic sea ice into the melting zone

(Robbie Mallet, PhD candidate, Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, UCL)

London, Aug 7 (IANS) Unusual wind patterns in the winter of 2020 have pushed the ice in the old Arctic Ocean toward instability. Rising water temperatures threaten to melt old ice sheets in the Arctic. But how did this happen and why is this old ice so important?

When winter is deep in the Arctic Ocean, the temperature drops to minus 30 degrees Celsius. The ice sheet on the surface of the ocean thickens because the water flowing beneath it also freezes. This ice also flows where there was once open water. In summer, when the temperature rises and the sun’s rays intensify, the ice layer thins and leaves space. Every year in September, the Arctic sea ice stays at its lowest point of the year, and scientists have seen it as an indication of how fast the region is changing.

Snow left over from melting during the summer prepares for another winter season. Some snows are such that it takes a lot of summer before they melt. It is usually found in cold regions near the North Pole. Ice that lasts even in summer is called perineal ice and is thick, hard and flexible. It is an important part of the Arctic climate and environment, disappearing as global temperatures rise.

When sunlight hits the earth, it is either reflected or absorbed. The absorbed light heats the planet more. Sea ice reflects 0 percent of the sunlight that is reflected back into outer space and is a powerful protection against global warming. But due to climate change, as the ice in the polar oceans melts, sunlight reaches the oceans where it is absorbed up to 90 percent.

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Permanent or long-lasting ice is especially important because it is more able to withstand summer, as well as protect the Arctic Ocean from the heat of the sun and keep the region cool. But the melting time of ice is increasing every year and the period of freezing ice is decreasing. Both asons you are warm in the Arctic.

In order to maintain a permanent ice circle in the Arctic, ice must be kept away from hot water. Ocean ice moves from place to place in the Arctic Ocean. If they move to a cold area, they are more likely to survive the summer and become permanent ice, but if they move southward toward warm water, they are more likely to melt.

In February 2021 it was discovered that the ‘polar vortex’, a very cold wind, which is a clockwise wind against the Arctic, stopped completely and set a new record for the highest surface air pressure in the region. Cold weather then moved south on the surface, causing the UK’s temperature to drop to its lowest point since 1995. Extremely cold weather in Texas shut down the power grid, leaving 4 million people without power.

The abrupt stop of the polar vortex created an unusual pattern of surface winds that led to permanent Arctic ice “Beaufort Sea” where it could not survive the summer. After winter, the Beaufort Sea, which occurred in the last week of February 2021, is filled with such permanent ice. Things got really interesting here.

Theoretically, long-lasting snow is unfavorable to melting in the summer. It is thick and has a deep protective covering on it. But this happens when the permanent ice forms its own cover.

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The area of ​​permanent ice in the last week of February 2021 was the second lowest since 2013. There is at least one month left for the snow to melt in the area in September, so there is still a lot to see. But 2021 is likely to set a new record for the lowest area of ​​permanent ice.


Mansi Pacific


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