Was it warming ocean waters back then, too? In August, a study showed that Greenland lost a record amount of ice during an extra-warm 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than 1.25 meters (4 feet) of water. And as ice … Ice loss is a function of natural climate variability and anthropogenic warming caused by increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Her Arctic research interests include atmosphere–sea-ice interactions, sea-ice predictability, climate change and associated impacts. July 24, 2019 — Leila Sloman. Ice is melting at the poles. The sea ice level recorded in July of 8,800 cubic kilometres is 47% below the average for the period 1979–2018. Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. One study, for instance, projects, "remarkable shifts in trade flows between Asia and Europe, diversion of trade within Europe, heavy shipping traffic in the Arctic and a substantial drop in Suez traffic. However, when sunlight falls on earth, only 20% of the heat is deflected and 80% is absorbed. Is this, however, the correct question to be asking in the first place? The current estimate for how much sea levels would rise if all the ice caps melted vary between 62 and 70 metres. A large fraction of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen: It’s stored in glaciers all around the world, and in both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.When this ice melts or calves off, the water flows into the oceans and sea levels rise.If all glaciers and ice sheets melted, global sea level would rise by more than 195 feet (60 meters). The images above show melting on the ice cap of Eagle Island and were acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on February 4 and February 13, 2020. Notably, the disappearing polar ice caps will accelerate global warming, cause widespread coastal … But the ice melt has accelerated this century, climbing to 500 billion tonnes and it … Paired with the 2019 Arctic heatwave, this melting rate may produce disastrous outcomes. Discover world-changing science. The current estimate for how much sea levels would rise if all the ice caps melted vary between 62 and 70 metres. Melt rate — fast. The melting of Arctic ice caps is likely to increase traffic in and the commercial viability of the Northern Sea Route. The sea ice level recorded in July of 8,800 cubic kilometres is 47% below the average for the period 1979–2018. An ice cap is a thick layer of snow and ice covering less than 50,000 square kilometers. The IODP drilling expedition aims to better understand what made these ice sheets melt in the past. The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers. So determining the answer is tricky. We monitor summer ice in September because that is the time of year with the least amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Even though not all scientists agree on the problem of global warming, the melting trend has been debated in various studies. The melting Arctic ice cap is opening up a new passage into the Atlantic for the expanding Chinese Navy in a potential new challenge to the UK and the west, the chief of the Royal Navy has warned. The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10,000. As part of the overall climate change phenomenon, the polar ice caps melting is an effect of trapped greenhouse gas emissions. The World’s Glaciers Continue To Melt As Massive Chunk Of Arctic Ice Cap Breaks Off Scott Snowden Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. So it is time to reframe our question and discuss ways in which we can limit the amount of additional CO2 in the atmosphere in order to preserve summer ice cover in the Arctic. Rapid glacial melt in Antarctica and Greenland also influences ocean currents, as massive amounts of very cold glacial-melt water entering warmer ocean waters is slowing ocean currents. There have been numerous articles stating that the melting of ice caps has been at a record low, but that still does not hide the truth that the polar ice caps are indeed melting and at an alarming rate. A large fraction of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen: It’s stored in glaciers all around the world, and in both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.When this ice melts or calves off, the water flows into the oceans and sea levels rise.If all glaciers and ice sheets melted, global sea level would rise by more than 195 feet (60 meters). Julienne C. Stroeve is a Canada 150 Research Chair at the University of Manitoba and received a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1996. The planet Mars has two permanent polar ice caps.During a pole's winter, it lies in continuous darkness, chilling the surface and causing the deposition of 25–30% of the atmosphere into slabs of CO 2 ice (). We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. Historically, the Arctic Ocean was covered by ice year-round, but today this area is about half of what it used to be. A comprehensive satellite study confirms that the melting ice caps are raising sea levels at an accelerating rate. This is a question often asked of sea-ice researchers by the media, the general public and policy makers—and no wonder. You can thank this melting for some of the truly odd and extreme weather we’ve seen, all over the world and perhaps right in your backyard. The March 2020 Arctic sea ice extent was 14.78 million square kilometers (5.71 million square miles). Impacts will be global. In an interactive article titled “If All the Ice Melted,” National Geographic invites you to “Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet. Ice shelves are massive, floating platforms of ice that surround the ice-covered continents of Antarctica and Greenland. Not surprisingly, global sea levels are rising as a consequence of the melting ice caps. Arctic Ocean: why winter sea ice has stalled, and what it means for the rest of the world. December 12, 2018 — Jeremy Rehm and Nature magazine, April 30, 2019 — Chelsea Harvey and E&E News, July 30, 2019 — Chelsea Harvey and E&E News, April 3, 2019 — Chelsea Harvey and E&E News. The polar ice caps are already melting, at quite a rapid speed. There are no signs of a slowdown in the rate of melting, as global temperatures continue to go up. Ice caps form as snow falls, melts and falls again. The warm temperatures arrived on February 5 and continued until February 13, 2020. And perhaps more importantly, we must ask how much more sea ice we are willing to lose. It assumes sea-ice loss is a function of time, but is that the case? A warming climate holds important implications for other aspects of the global environment.Because of the slow process of heat diffusion in water, the world’s oceans are likely to continue to warm for several centuries in response to increases in greenhouse concentrations that have taken place so far. Paired with the 2019 Arctic heatwave, this melting rate may produce disastrous outcomes. According to the most complete analysis to date, t he polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s. Can You Keep It? The images above show melting on the ice cap of Eagle Island and were acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on February 4 and February 13, 2020. Scholars Could Crack the Code of the Etruscan Language With Big, New Find, Information about the device's operating system, Information about other identifiers assigned to the device, The IP address from which the device accesses a client's website or mobile application, Information about the user's activity on that device, including web pages and mobile apps visited or used, Information about the geographic location of the device when it accesses a website or mobile application. There are no signs of a slowdown in the rate of melting, as global temperatures continue to go up. The polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s, according to the most complete analysis to date. The melting of Arctic ice caps is likely to increase traffic in and the commercial viability of the Northern Sea Route. Almost 90% is in Antarctica, while the remaining 10% is in the Greenland ice cap. Related articles. The melting of the polar ice caps increases global warming because ice glaciers deflects or bounces off about 80% heat from the sun and retain or absorb about 20% of it. Related articles. The World’s Glaciers Continue To Melt As Massive Chunk Of Arctic Ice Cap Breaks Off Scott Snowden Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. This animation shows how the multi-year sea ice area, an estimation of the total volume of multi-year ice in the Arctic Ocean, has evolved from 1980 to 2012. With current global emission rates of 35 to 40 billion metric tons of CO2 each year, we may get our first glimpses of ice-free Septembers in the next 20 to 25 years, when we will have added another 800 billion metric tons to the atmosphere. The probability of losing all the ice is greatly reduced if the warming is kept to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IODP drilling expedition aims to better understand what made these ice sheets melt in the past. Yet it does not stop there. According to the most complete analysis to date, t he polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s. Weird & Wacky, Copyright © 2020 HowStuffWorks, a division of InfoSpace Holdings, LLC, a System1 Company. Given that current September ice coverage is already hovering near four million square kilometers, this result implies certainty of ice-free conditions each summer at a global warming of 2 degrees C. Sea-ice loss is not irreversible. The melting Arctic ice cap is opening up a new passage into the Atlantic for the expanding Chinese Navy in a potential new challenge to the UK and the west, the chief of the Royal Navy has warned. One study, for instance, projects, "remarkable shifts in trade flows between Asia and Europe, diversion of trade within Europe, heavy shipping traffic in the Arctic and a substantial drop in Suez traffic. Ice-free conditions are likely if we allow the warming to increase to two degrees C. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report gives what is likely a conservative estimate: it states that at increased global temperatures of two degrees C, ice-free Septembers will happen once every decade. July 30, 2019 — Chelsea Harvey and E&E News. The average annual loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica in the 2010s was 470 gigatons – six times greater than the 81bn tonnes a year lost in the 1990s. Snow that melts slightly becomes harder and compressed. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so OK, they’re at a record level.” Donald Trump President of the United States Stroeve has published more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals, contributed to several national and international reports on climate change, briefed former vice president Al Gore and congressional staff and been listed as one of the most highly cited researchers by Thomson Reuters since 2014. 2020 is shown in blue, 2019 in green, 2018 in orange, 2017 in brown, 2016 in purple, and 2012 in dashed brown. Several recent reports have detailed the accelerated loss of summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic. The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10,000. So You Dug Up a Woolly Mammoth in Your Backyard. In addition, the observed ice loss is generally happening faster than climate models have forecasted. Was it warming ocean waters back then, too? She has conducted several Arctic field campaigns and will participate in the upcoming Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition. The polar ice caps are already melting, at quite a rapid speed. The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.” The ice caps are melting because the earth’s average temperature is rising (global warming). Snow that melts slightly becomes harder and compressed. According to NASA, the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate of 9% per decade. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. EARTH. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners. The melting of Earth's ice caps will contribute to increased coastal flooding, shifting ocean currents and more frequent extreme weather events. However, these ice sheets are rapidly disappearing, releasing CO2 and raising sea levels. Once they melt, the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet is at risk of collapsing. Causes of Polar Ice Caps Melting. Other months of the year will become ice-free with additional atmospheric CO2. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. When the poles are again exposed to sunlight, the frozen CO 2 sublimes. An ice cap is a thick layer of snow and ice covering less than 50,000 square kilometers. This means the cold needed to keep the ice frozen isn’t sustained for long enough to do its job. Antarctica is covered with ice an average of 2,133 meters (7,000 feet) thick. We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. From 1979 to 2006, Greenland’s ice sheet had an increase of 30% in the melting rate. Although they were abnormally large, the state of the polar ice caps in 1979 became the standard baseline in NASA’s study. In the past, there has been a disinformation campaign about the melting polar ice caps. The world’s melting ice sheets may have consequences far beyond global sea-level rise, scientists say. The observed relationship between sea-ice decline and global warming is, however, larger than that seen in the climate models. The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers. In August, a study showed that Greenland lost a record amount of ice during an extra-warm 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than 1.25 meters (4 feet) of water. The main ice covered landmass is Antarctica at the South Pole, with about 90 percent of the world's ice (and 70 percent of its fresh water). The average annual loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica in the 2010s was 470 gigatons – six times greater than the 81bn tonnes a year lost in the 1990s. Magnet and Neuron Model Also Predicts Arctic Sea Ice Melt. July 24, 2019 — Leila Sloman. Today, polar ice caps are melting six times faster than they did in the 1990s. This was the eleventh lowest in the satellite record, 650,000 square kilometers (251,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2020 March average and 490,000 square kilometers (189,000 square miles) above the record low March extent in 2017. Some researchers are investigating the global temperature limits that will save Arctic sea ice. The question gets even more complicated because we see a large spread in climate model simulations, with ice-free September conditions already happening in 2020 in some simulations but not until well beyond 2100 in others. One study for example, showed that for every metric ton of CO2 added to the atmosphere, another three square meters of September sea ice disappear. From 1979 to 2006, Greenland’s ice sheet had an increase of 30% in the melting rate. Today, polar ice caps are melting six times faster than they did in the 1990s. › Download video Multi-year sea ice, or ice that has survived at least two melt seasons in the Arctic, is shrinking rapidly. According to NASA, the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate of 9% per decade. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, Piomas Monthly Ice Volume Data, 1979–Present. If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 61 meters (200 feet). Holiday Sale: Save 25%, A climatologist and ice researcher examines the latest trends and data. In reality, Arctic sea-ice cover is not concerned with time. Ice shelves are massive, floating platforms of ice that surround the ice-covered continents of Antarctica and Greenland. Either the ice melts at the surface which sends torrents of water down to the surrounding seas or huge chunks of ice break off from the margins and float away as icebergs, gradually to melt. In an interactive article titled “If All the Ice Melted,” National Geographic invites you to “Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet. Once they melt, the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet is at risk of collapsing. In the 1980s and 1990s, the ice cap lost around 450 billion tonnes of ice per year, which was compensated by snowfall, the scientists said after analysing 40 years of data. That in itself would be enough to displace millions of people around the world, but if this trend continues and all our polar ice caps and glaciers melt, it's been predicted that the oceans will rise by a mind-blowing 65.8 metres (216 feet). The ice sheets spread over more than 10 square kilometers (around 4 sq miles) in total back in 1950. Ice loss was also prominent in the Sea of Okho… The thickness of the Arctic Ice has decreased by 40% since the 1960s. When they melt, sea level isn't directly affected because this ice is already in the ocean. As of July 2020, satellite images show that these ice caps have disappeared. This image acquired on August 20, 2018 by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows remnants of a deposit, composed of dry ice layered together with dust and water ice, that form the south polar residual cap. See more, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In the past, there has been a disinformation campaign about the melting polar ice caps. There have been numerous articles stating that the melting of ice caps has been at a record low, but that still does not hide the truth that the polar ice caps are indeed melting and at an alarming rate. The ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is … At the end of the month, extent was particularly low in the Bering Sea after a rapid retreat during the second half of the month. According to scientists at the U.S Center for Atmospheric Research, if the current rate of global temperature rise continues, the Arctic will be free of Ice …