Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record

Climate
Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record
Wikimedia Commons

The Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and now the region's thickest and oldest sea ice—also known as "the last ice area"—is breaking up for the first time on record, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The breakage has opened up waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen-solid even in the peak of summer.


The loss of ice, which meteorologist Thomas Lavergne called "scary," has already been seen twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-driven heat wave, according to the Guardian.

Much of the Arctic's oldest ice has already disappeared. The exception is a region along the northern shores of Canada and Greenland that scientists have dubbed "the last ice area" because it is projected to be Earth's last stronghold of summer sea ice in the face of climate change.

However, with the new finding, scientists may have to rethink which area of the Arctic will be able to withstand warming the longest.

"Almost all of the ice to the north of Greenland is quite shattered and broken up and therefore more mobile," Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told the Guardian. "Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual. This area has often been called 'the last ice area' as it has been suggested that the last perennial sea ice in the Arctic will occur here. The events of the last week suggest that, actually, the last ice area may be further west."

Wherever this "last ice area" might be, it will be a critical haven for Arctic species that will be pushed out from their habitats from rapid sea ice loss.

In recent years, we've seen more ice melting each summer, and less ice forming each winter. This past Arctic winter was the warmest on record and the high temperatures likely affected the thickness of the area's ice. Arctic sea ice hit its second-lowest winter peak in the 39-year satellite record, measuring 14.48 million square kilometers on March 17—or just 60,000 square kilometers larger than the 2017 record, and 1.16 million square kilometers smaller than the 1981-2010 average.

NASA remarked in February that temperatures have soared in the Arctic for the fourth winter in a row: "The heat, accompanied by moist air, is entering the Arctic not only through the sector of the North Atlantic Ocean that lies between Greenland and Europe, as it has done in previous years, but is also coming from the North Pacific through the Bering Strait."

Climate scientist Zack Labe, who frequently shares striking graphs of the region's anomalies on his Twitter account, commented that sea ice extent in the Greenland Sea has been at or near a record low for most of this year.

One report in spring 2020 found that 38% of students at four-year universities were food-insecure. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller

When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch