The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has reportedly begun breaking up for the first time in recorded history, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the phenomenon “has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere.”
According to the Guardian:
One meteorologist described the loss of ice as “scary”. Others said it could force scientists to revise their theories about which part of the Arctic will withstand warming the longest.
The sea off the north coast of Greenland is normally so frozen that it was referred to, until recently, as “the last ice area” because it was assumed that this would be the final northern holdout against the melting effects of a hotter planet.
But abnormal temperature spikes in February and earlier this month have left it vulnerable to winds, which have pushed the ice further away from the coast than at any time since satellite records began in the 1970s.
“Almost all of the ice to the north of Greenland is quite shattered and broken up and therefore more mobile,” Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told The Guardian. “Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual. This area has often been called ‘the last ice area’ as it has been suggested that the last perennial sea ice in the Arctic will occur here. The events of the last week suggest that, actually, the last ice area may be further west.”
— Leif Toudal (@elmltp) August 13, 2018
A new study released by PLOS Medicine predicted that heat waves could increase by up to 2,000 percent in certain parts of the world by 2080 as a result of climate change.