Friday, December 24, 2010

Arctic: 'dramatic changes taking place'

Eastern Arctic warming trend alarms scientists

NunatsiaqOnline: Ice has cracked up -- once in a while taking Nunavut hunters with it. Lakes continue to dry up, while permafrost melts and the tundra is greening... Observations from the ground in the Eastern Arctic, from places like Iqaluit... and views taken by satellites at 500 kilometres above the Earth's surface showed... that ice formation in 2010 is abnormally slow...
  • Air temperatures 20C above normal at the beginning of the year in the Baffin Island communities of Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq;
  • Large ice cracks south of Resolute Bay last January, which caused a hunter to float off on an ice floe;
  • Other cracks in land-fast ice spreading throughout the High Arctic islands, endangering research stations, causing problems for polar trekkers and swallowing up a Twin Otter.
This past spring, ice on Hudson Bay broke up three to four weeks earlier, and the Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, which usually freezes fast from February to July, never froze up solid.

Weak ice [can] lead to more storms as ice cracks cause water temperatures to warm and then lead to even more ice breakup and more storms in a frightening loop. What's needed is more monitoring with more remote sensing devices...

More monitoring of lakes and other fresh waterways also needs to be done... said Frederick Wrona from the University of Victoria... 'We have dramatic changes taking place,' with the Arctic becoming a place of rain instead of snow,' said Wrona, who predicted that there will be more extreme events like floods in the Arctic's future.
Image: Frobisher Bay; source here.