Sea ice extent on 9-16
Source: NSIDC

It’s got opportunity. There are fingerprints on the weapon. But what is the motive?

In a finding consistent with rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, warm water oozing north from the Atlantic Ocean has once again been fingered as a prime suspect in the generation-long murder of Arctic ice.

In this instance, a remarkable study from Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies found rising sea-surface temperatures in the Barents Sea as the factor liquidating winter ice cover northeast of Scandinavia.

And then the feedback mechanism kicks in. Less ice in winter leads to less ice in summer, with amplified warming of the sea, which in turn leads to even less ice in following winters. The meltback snowballs, in a manner of speaking.

“In the Barents Sea, I expected more influence from atmospheric heating; but it [the retreat of the ice edge] seems to be governed almost entirely by warming from the ocean,” said Jennifer Francis, associate research professor, in a story posted by the Institute.

Not so with the Bering Sea near Alaska.

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