Research

Sea ice hits record bows at both poles

Sea ice hits record bows at both poles”

Arctic ice cover is getting smaller and smaller, with the January record being a historic low compared to other satellite imaging dating back to 1979. But the sea ice extent began a rapid decline through the end of the year. But it's not clear what is ultimately driving this dramatic reversal in Antarctic sea ice, or whether it will be temporary or marks a longer-term shift.

Desch and his team have put forward the proposals in a paper published in the American Geophysical Union journal, Earth's Future.

The proposed system would be part of a multi-pronged strategy for restoring Arctic sea ice, the researchers said, and while it has the potential to succeed, it would come at a cost - $500 billion, to be specific. This is seen most clearly in the Arctic, where sea ice is at half the area it was at this time in the early 1970s. Sea ice levels in Antarctica are much more variable, though, and scientists are still unraveling the processes that affect it from year to year.

It certainly seems less risky than previous climate change mitigation plans have sounded, particularly ones that revolve around firing reflective aerosols into the sky to stop so much sunlight getting through. Based on their analysis, they found that the Arctic is home to enough wind power that for every windmill with six meter diameter blades, 1.3 meters of water (equal to 1.4 meters of ice) could be pumped over 0.1 square kilometer of the Arctic during the winter months, increasing ice thickness by almost one full meter. The opening of the Arctic has also led to more shipping and commercial activity in an already fragile region.

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The loss of the Arctic's summer ice cover would have far-reaching implications for the region and the wider planet. This ice also undergoes expansion when the autumn season arrives.

Another would spray sea water into the atmosphere to create clouds that would reflect sunlight away from the surface. Looking at the average for the entire year, the Antarctic sea ice extent was 4.2 percent below average, the second smallest on record.

The sea ice usually reaches a minimum extent in the Southern Hemisphere's late summer (February or March).

NSIDC said the level of sea ice in the region shrunk to 2.287 million square kilometers or 883,015 square miles as of 13th of February this year.



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