Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic Ocean

Ice in the Arctic Ocean is melting faster than climate models have predicted. A recent article from The Economist looks at the causes. Included is this map comparing average and recent sea ice extents.

The article also links to an animation that shows the opening up of potential new shipping routes - also shown on the map above. Here is a still frame.

Some interesting notes from the article:

Melting ice creates a "feedback loop" where there is more water and less ice. Water absorbs light and heat, while ice reflects it. More water and less ice means more heat is retained.

Melting ice will enable the extraction of more fossil fuel from the area, creating another feedback loop in which more greenhouse gas emissions will be created.

The melting of the ocean ice will do little to raise the sea level, however eventually more ice will melt off of Greenland and other land areas and that will cause a sea level rise.

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