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Home* News and Stories → Again, nega­ti­ve records from the arc­tic: ice cover low, tem­pe­ra­tures high

Again, nega­ti­ve records from the arc­tic: ice cover low, tem­pe­ra­tures high

It comes hard­ly as a sur­pri­se: once again, the­re are nega­ti­ve records of the cur­rent sea ice situa­tions. As the Nor­we­gi­an Ice Ser­vice released on Twit­ter, the­re has never been as litt­le ice around Sval­bard as cur­r­ent­ly sin­ce begin­ning of the record­ings in 1967. As the latest ice chart shows, both Sval­bard and neigh­bou­ring Frans Josef Land are com­ple­te­ly free of sea ice:

ice chart 22 August 2018

Ice chart of 22 August 2018 (by MET Nor­way).

Accord­ing to the Nor­we­gi­an Ice Ser­vice, the sea ice cover in the Sval­bard area was 123,065 squa­re kilo­me­tres, which is 105,139 squa­re kilo­me­tres less com­pa­red to the long-term average (1981-2010), a loss of almost 50 %!

But sci­en­tists are even more worried about the loss of ice north of Green­land, which is also visi­ble in the ice chart abo­ve. Nort­hern­most Green­land is an area whe­re ice is pushed against the coast by cur­r­ents, so it is – was – buil­ding up a very solid ice cover aver­aging 4 m in thic­kness and reaching more than 20 m thic­kness in pla­ces! This ice cover was, howe­ver, wea­ke­ned by warm air incur­si­ons such as the extre­me event in Febru­a­ry. The wea­ke­ned ice could be moved around by wind much more easi­ly, and this is exact­ly what hap­pen­ed now in a lar­ge area north of Green­land. Even if the water sur­face free­zes again soon, the dama­ge is now done and it is hard­ly rever­si­ble: as the term mul­ti-year ice sug­gests, it takes many years to replace a lost area of such ice, but it is hard­ly expec­ted that this will hap­pen at all given cur­rent cli­ma­te deve­lo­p­ments.

Rossøya, Vesle Taveløya ice-free

Sval­bard fur­thest north: Ros­søya (left) and Ves­le Tav­leøya com­ple­te­ly ice-free, mid-July 2018.

It fits into this pic­tu­re that Lon­gye­ar­by­en has now got an unbro­ken seri­es of 90 (!) mon­ths with tem­pe­ra­tures abo­ve the long-term average. A dra­ma­tic deve­lo­p­ment, but hard­ly a sur­pri­se.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2018-08-23 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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