Winter Ice Thickening is Faster Than Before in Arctic, But Not Enough to Overcome Melting: NASA

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A new research from the NASA suggests, that Arctic is regrowing at faster rates during the winter than it was a few decades ago.

The findings showed that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70% of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

This increase in growth rate might last for decades, But at the same time, that sea ice is vanishing quicker than it has ever been observed in the satellite record, it is also thickening at a faster rate during winter. However, this does not mean that the ice cover is recovering, though. Just delaying its demise. The study findings were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Lead author Alek Petty, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said, “This increase in the amount of sea ice growing in winter doesn’t overcome the large increase in melting we’ve observed in recent decades” and further added “Overall, the thickness is decreasing. Arctic sea ice is still very much in decline across all seasons and is projected to continue its decline over the coming decades.”

To explore sea ice growth variability across the Arctic, the team used climate models and observations of sea ice thickness from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite. They found that in the 1980s, when Arctic sea ice was on average 6.6 feet thick in October, about 3.3 extra feet of ice would form over the winter.

Researchers used climate models and observations of sea ice thickness from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite to explore sea ice growth variability across the Arctic. The climate model results compared well both with CryoSat-2’s measurements and the results of another commonly used Arctic sea ice model, giving the researchers confidence in the climate model’s ability to capture Arctic sea ice variability.

These model simulations showed that in the 1980s when Arctic sea ice was on average 6.6 feet thick in October, about 3.3 extra feet of ice would form over the winter. That rate of growth has increased and may continue to do so for several more decades in some regions of the Arctic; in the coming decades, we could have an ice pack that would on average be only around 3.3 feet thick in October, but could experience up to 5 feet of ice growth over the winter.