Scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute are reporting that the record-breaking ice melt this summer is part of an accelerating trend that could have significant long-term consequences on climate and ocean conditions.
The researchers are saying that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable than in any previous year since monitoring began 30 years ago. The peak for ice melting has yet to pass as mid-September has been the traditional peak time. However, temperatures in the region remain above freezing.
“It has taken us by surprise,” Dr. Kim Holmen of the NPI told the BBC. “It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.”
In places where the melt is significantly different, the surfaces are less white and reflective of solar radiation. This means the ocean water under the ice shelf warms more significantly than other times in history.
Early research shows that the ice in the arctic could completely melt in the summer starting in the 2080s and have a direct impact on the jet stream. That could change worldwide weather patterns and storms.