Saturday, July 17, 2010

Arctic Ice Melting

This came through in a DoD e-mailing covering updated news. Showing how serious the Pentagon and Military are taking the 'Global Warming Research' going on, this isn't the first.

Why are giant slabs of Arctic ice melting so fast? [ICESCAPE]

Don Perovich on the Ice. (Photo: Haley Smith Kingsland)

July 16, 2010 “This is the best ice floe ever,” remarked Don Perovich (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory), leader of ICESCAPE’s sea ice team. It looks like a normal floe to me, but to Don, each new floe he samples is the best floe ever. Ice floes are big slabs of frozen ocean, and the ice team is trying to understand why they are melting so fast and what the consequences for the Arctic marine ecosystem might be.

Although there are actually three research groups studying sea ice as part of ICESCAPE, including my own, Don’s group is especially interested in how much sunlight is absorbed and reflected by sea ice (you’ll read about the other groups in a later post). This is an important issue because the sea ice near the Earth’s two poles reflects a lot of the sun’s heat and helps keep the planet cool. What worries scientists is that as the sea ice melts, the ocean will absorb more heat, causing it to warm up and melt even more ice. A warmer Arctic Ocean means less sea ice and ultimately, a warmer planet. Continued

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