Arctic sea ice thinning twice as fast as previously thought, study finds

Paris, Jun 10 (EFE).- Sea ice in coastal regions of the Arctic may be thinning twice as fast as thought, a study by the European Space Agency warned Thursday.

“Earth’s declining ice is without doubt one of the biggest casualties of climate change. However, calculating the amount of ice we are losing can be a challenge,” the ESA said.

Previous calculations of sea-ice thickness are based on a snow map that was last updated 20 years ago. But with climate change drastically evolving at a fast pace, the data is out of date.

ESA’s new research uses innovative computer models that track temperature, snowfall and ice floe movement to measure the accumulation of snow. The data has shown that ice thickness is thinning much faster than we previously thought.

The research concluded that sea ice in key Arctic coastal regions is thinning at a rate of 70–100% faster and in some regions reaching up to 110% faster than previously calculated.

“The thickness of sea ice is a sensitive indicator of the health of the Arctic. It is important as thicker ice acts as an insulating blanket, stopping the ocean from warming up the atmosphere in winter, and protecting the ocean from the sunshine in summer,” said Robbie Mallet, PhD student at University College London who led the study.

As well as consequences for the planet, thinning of the ice in these regions have implications for human activity in the region.

The Northern Sea Route shipping lane will be easier to navigate but will also be more vulnerable to the extraction of resources from the sea such as oil, gas and minerals.

Indigenous communities living on the coast will also be more at risk due to increased exposure to wave action from the ocean.

“This study further confirms the key importance of enhancing our capability of simultaneously monitoring snow depth and sea-ice thickness change over the Arctic,” ESA concluded. EFE

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