FILE PHOTO: Chunks of ice float inside of meltwater pools on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

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It was a devastating summer for the Arctic. 

In September, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean hit a low of about 1.4 million acres – the second-lowest on record, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The only time it got lower was in 2012, when ice cover reached over just 1.3 million acres. 

In the 1980s, ice covered at least 1 million more acres of ocean than it does now. In 1980, its minimum extent was 2.7 million square miles, according to NASA. 

When it comes to ice on land, the picture is just as dire. Greenland is on track to lose more of its ice sheet this century than any other in the past 12,000 years, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature.

Weather patterns, like seasonal changes in atmospheric pressure, play a role in fluctuations in ice cover and loss. But climate change has overwhelmingly driven the dramatic increase in melting observed over the last 40 years.

“Absolutely we’re seeing climate change at work because the warm summers become warmer and the cold winters aren’t as cold as they were,” Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center, told the Associated Press.

The following 11 images reveal how melting ice has transformed the Arctic region.

SEE ALSO: Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier is in peril, images reveal. The so-called ‘doomsday glacier’ could trigger 10 feet of sea-level rise if it melts.

DON’T MISS: Record heat in the Arctic is setting the stage for a different kind of conflict

Sea ice at the North and South Poles has shrunk dramatically over the last 30 years.


Toggle left and right in the image above to see how Arctic sea ice levels around Greenland have changed in spring and fall.

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Melting sea ice doesn’t contribute to sea-level rise, but it has been linked to increased storminess on the US East Coast and changes in jet-stream patterns.

The jet stream is driven by differences between low temperatures in the Arctic and higher temperatures farther south.

“Because we’re warming the Arctic so much faster, that north-south temperature difference is getting smaller, and the jet stream is getting weaker,” Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, told WBUR in Boston.

A weakening jet stream means slower weather patterns, which could lead events like heat waves to last longer.

Changing weather patterns caused by sea-ice loss may also cause more El Niño storms in the Pacific Ocean.

Over the past 20 years, the Arctic Ocean has warmed so much that air over the sea’s surface forms towers of hot air. These towers travel toward the equator, intensifying the trade winds that lead to El Niño storms. 

Melting sea ice affects Arctic animals like polar bears. A 2018 study found that polar bears in the region have been losing weight during late spring and early summer, when they should be packing on pounds to prepare for winter.

Polar bears use sea ice to hunt seals, the high-fat prey they need to survive. As …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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