10/6/2011 7:32:26 PM

Canadian Sea Ice Losses Accelerate

 Summer ice scene

Ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic are breaking up and shrinking at a rapid rate, with the loss of almost half of Canada's ice shelf extents over the past six years, according to reports from scientists. This summer alone saw one ice shelf, the Serson, almost completely disappear and the Ward Hunt shelf split in half.

Summer sea ice coverage in the Arctic nearly tied with 2007 for the lowest levels recorded since satellite tracking began, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center—and reached historic lows by some measurements.

And in more bad news for Arctic sea ice (and the polar bears and other wildlife that depend on it), a team of scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has found that the old, thick sea ice has mostly disappeared, leaving young, thin ice in its wake. Such ice melts more easily and allows more light to penetrate the sea, leading to ecosystem changes such as algae blooms.

Photo by Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures.

 

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