In the Arctic, the Old Ice Is Disappearing
In the Arctic Ocean, some ice stays frozen year-round, lasting for many years before melting. But this winter, the region hit a record low for ice older than five years.
This, along with a near-record low for sea ice over all, supports predictions that by midcentury there will be no more ice in the Arctic Ocean in summer.
As darker, heat-absorbing water replaces reflective ice, it hastens warming in the region. Older ice is generally thicker than newer ice and thus more resilient to heat. But as the old ice disappears, the newer ice left behind is more vulnerable to rising temperatures.
“First-year ice grows through winter and then to up to a maximum, which is usually around in March,” said Mark A. Tschudi, a research associate at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “As summer onsets, the ice starts to melt back.”
photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center