I get freaked out by climate change news that starts with “For the first time since records began.” Thinner ice in the Laptev means thinner ice elsewhere, which the article says “could mean fewer nutrients for Arctic plankton, which will then have a reduced capacity to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” Climate change dominos.
The downward trend is likely to continue until the Arctic has its first ice-free summer, said Meier. The data and models suggest this will occur between 2030 and 2050. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” he added.
Scientists are concerned the delayed freeze could amplify feedbacks that accelerate the decline of the ice cap. It is already well known that a smaller ice sheet means less of a white area to reflect the sun’s heat back into space. But this is not the only reason the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average.
The Laptev Sea is known as the birthplace of ice, which forms along the coast there in early winter, then drifts westward carrying nutrients across the Arctic, before breaking up in the spring in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard. If ice forms late in the Laptev, it will be thinner and thus more likely to melt before it reaches the Fram Strait. This could mean fewer nutrients for Arctic plankton, which will then have a reduced capacity to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
More open sea also means more turbulence in the upper layer of the Arctic ocean, which draws up more warm water from the depths.
Dr Stefan Hendricks, a sea ice physics specialist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, said the sea ice trends are grim but not surprising. “It is more frustrating than shocking. This has been forecast for a long time, but there has been little substantial response by decision-makers.”
Let’s remember who the real ‘decision-makers’ are though, or who has the real power. Hint: it’s not the politicians or capitalists.