I've got some bad news, some more bad news and some good news (maybe). Here are a couple of science articles that caught my eye the past couple of weeks.
The first one is about waves and how it's easier for them to hurt the ice pack now that sea ice has thinned so much. From Scientific American:
Giant Waves Quickly Destroy Arctic Ocean Ice and Ecosystems
The biggest waves seen in northern sea ice show how this vital cover can be crushed much faster than expected
The chance encounter of a Norwegian research vessel with the largest waves ever recorded amid floating packs of Arctic ice shows how such rollers could reroute shipping, damage oil platforms and threaten coastal communities with erosion. In a March report in Geophysical Research Letters scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) describe how large waves can penetrate more deeply into ice cover and break it up faster and more completely than anyone had suspected.
Ice near the outer edge of the pack absorbed some energy from arriving waves but also focused the remaining energy into pulses that could strike deeper into the pack, lifting it as the waves rolled beneath. The rise and fall strained ice to the breaking point. Once broken, the smaller ice chunks allowed the largest waves to pass almost unhindered and attack solid ice farther in. The ice went from blocking almost all the wave energy to none at all within just one hour. The process happened so fast, in fact, that Collins calculated waves were destroying the pack at a rate of over 16 kilometers of ice an hour.
Scientists had never imagined that Arctic waves could break up pack ice so quickly. Historically, the region’s extensive ice cover left no large expanses of open water needed by storms to whip up really big rollers. But climate change has brought milder winters, warmer sea temperatures and bigger storms, which create a vicious cycle that promises less sea ice and more wind and open water to generate ice-crushing waves.
Read the rest here.
It has been known for a while now that thinning has caused an increase in wave activity, a positive feedback that is bad news for the ice pack, but it was interesting to read about an instance of scientists being around to measure it.
Another positive feedback that is bad news for Arctic sea ice, is an increase in phytoplankton as sea ice recedes and waters warm up.
From The Carbon Brief: