Arctic ice melts in winter too

Thaw in the Arctic

Although it may be curious, Arctic ice continues to melt in winter, as revealed by the latest data for January from the National Snow and Ice Center (NSIC). That month ended with 13,06 million square kilometers of ice, 1,36 million km2 less than during the reference period that goes from 1981 to 2010.

Temperatures in this part of the world are getting too hot for ice to hold, so the Arctic is expected to be left without its snow cover in the future.

The arctic ocean recorded a temperature of at least 3 degrees Celsius above average. In the Kara and Barents seas this increase was up to 9ºC. On the Pacific side, the thermometer read about 5ºC more than the average; in contrast, in Siberia the temperature was up to 4ºC lower than normal.

This change was the result of an atmospheric circulation pattern that carries warmer southern air and the release of heat into the atmosphere from open water areas. Furthermore, sea level pressure was higher than usual in the central Arctic, so that hot air from Eurasia could be transferred over that Arctic region.

Arctic thaw

Image - NSIDC.org

If nothing changes the average temperature is expected to rise by 4 or 5 degrees by mid-century, which would represent twice what is expected to increase in the northern hemisphere as a whole. As for the ice, it could almost completely disappear, with less than 1 million square kilometers remaining each summer from the 2030s, which will surely and unfortunately mean the extinction of polar bears.

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