Getty Images | Wolfgang Kaehler

Arctic Sea Ice Has Failed To Freeze By Late October For The First Time Ever

For the first time in recorded history, the Laptev Sea has not frozen yet. A warm winter in Russia raised the temperature of the water higher than normal. Ocean temperatures in that area were 5°C higher than normal. Scientists observed the ice in the area thin over the years, but the lack of any ice this year is very troubling.

The heatwave in Siberia is linked to climate change.

World Weather Attribution reported that:

"We analysed the average temperatures between January and June 2020 for the large region, as well as the hottest maximum daily temperature in June 2020 for Verkhoyansk. We found in both cases that this event would have effectively been impossible without human-induced climate change.

Open water can compound the problem.

Normally, the water in the arctic would be locked in ice. In its liquid form, it is now free to move with the currents. This means the cold water in the North is likely to move south, to less dense areas, pushing that warm water up in its place. This circulation will continue to warm the water in the area making it harder to freeze.

Less ice means that less heat from the sun will be reflected away from the Earth.

Light objects such as ice are the color white because they are reflecting all of the light that is hitting it. Dark objects, on the other hand, absorb light. This means that when arctic waters are covered in ice, it reflects heat, but the dark open-waters absorb heat. This can further increase the temperature of the water.

If no ice forms, the number plankton may decrease.

Plankton plays an important role in reducing carbon. Plankton, much like plants, absorb CO2 to create food with photosynthesis. And, they get their nutrients from ice melt runoff in the spring. Less ice means less of those nutrients will make it to the plankton, and less plankton, less CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

No ice at this time is unprecedented.

This is a serious indicator that climate change is affecting our planet. Zackery Labe, a postdoctoral researcher, told The Guardian that:

"2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century."

h/t: The Guardian