Scientists previously believed that this region remains frozen longer than the rest of the Arctic. But a new analysis suggests that a record crash occurred last summer at this site as well
Scientists say the unexpected decline was caused by strong winds linked to climate change.
It is located north of Greenland Part of the Wandel Sea, which scientists called the “last glacier”. Usually, thick permanent ice remains in this area year-round.
“Sea ice is floating around the Arctic and accumulating naturally off the northern coasts of Greenland and Canada,” explained Axel Schweiger, of the University of Washington, lead author of the study.
He also added, in climate models, this region will be included in the next century as the region where the ice remains the longest in the summer. So scientists believe that this area could be an important and final sanctuary for marine mammals in the Arctic, including polar bears, seals and walruses.
Polar bears use ice to hunt seals, which build nests on freezing water to raise their young.
But last August, the German research vessel Polarstern, sailing across the Wandel Sea, unexpectedly found itself in open waters where the ice would normally have been thick. Researchers are now using satellite images and sea ice models to try to figure out what might happen in the area.
Compounding the mystery is the fact that satellite measurements last spring showed that the sea ice covering the Wandel Sea was thicker than it had been in previous years.. However, by August 2020, recordings had recorded an ice concentration as low as 50%.
The unusually strong winds pushed most of the sea ice out of the area, the researchers said, but that this was only made possible because the ice had diminished due to years of warming.
“In the winter and spring of 2020, there were older, thicker patches of ice in the area that drifted, but there was also completely thinner and newer ice that melted thus exposing the open water. This started the heat absorption cycle, which melted more. The ice, on the Although there is more dense ice in the area.
The researchers said the record melt was 80 percent due to weather-related factors such as wind and 20 percent due to climate vulnerability linked to climate change.
As BBC News reports, Canada declared part of its “last glacier” a marine nature reserve in 2019 and named Tuvaijuittuq in the language of the people who live there, meaning “the place where the ice never melts”.
According to the authors of a study published in Communications Earth & Environment, their research suggests that climate models need to be re-examined, as most did not predict low sea ice concentrations in the region in 2020 for the coming decades.
Cover Photo: Getty Images