A team of 18 scientists from five countries determined that the current rate of record-setting ice retreat is the most drastic to occur in at least 5,000 years. The researchers’ findings, which are being published in the peer-reviewed journal Quaternary Science Reviews, examined data from hundreds of studies to obtain a large picture of millions of years of Arctic history. They concluded that the Arctic ice conditions of the past 30 years were unmatched and consistent with the rapidly warming climate.
Dr. Leonid Polyak, a polar researchers and lead author of the study, stated that the normally predictable ice fluctuations related to the Earth’s orbit indicate that there should be more, rather than less ice.
Therefore, the current ice loss is not just a low point in the natural variable cycle of shrinking and growing ice. Dr. David Barber, Canada’s Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba and his own team of researchers has also been finding evidence of unprecedented sea ice decline.
David Barber (M): We’re just coming into the summer conditions in 2010, and we’re finding that we’re probably going to lose quite a bit of ice through the summer. And so we’re expecting it to be another year that’s fairly similar to 2007, which was the last record of the minimum extent of sea ice in the northern hemisphere.
VOICE: Navigating through the Arctic sea ice, Dr. Barber and his team found that the ships were able to go through the normally thick multi-year ice easily, as it had degraded to only a thin layer of first-year ice.
David Barber (M): It used to be that about 80 to 85% of the Arctic basin was covered with that kind of ice. We’re now down to about 18% of the Arctic basin being covered by that kind of ice.
And what happens is as we lose that ice, it’s replaced in the fall with this first-year ice which is much thinner. It has a maximum thickness of about 2 meters. It’s much more, say, lean, and much warmer, so it’s much easier to break and it’s much more susceptible to winds and wave action.
VOICE: We appreciate your efforts, Drs. Barber and Polyak and colleagues, in asserting the alarming extent of these damaging ice effects. May your research motivate us all to act quickly toward steps to stabilize the climate in the Arctic and throughout our planetary home.
In a September 2009 videoconference in South Korea, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke of the Arctic’s already urgent situation and how to stop its further decline.