NASA: Sea ice minimum / summer 2007

Arctic Ocean ice has thinned dramatically during the past few years, with vast quantities of stable multi-year ice flushing into oblivion out in the Atlantic Ocean.

Replacing these reliable royal-blue floes built over many years — the literal bedrock of the Arctic ice habitat — are weak pans formed during one or two seasons at a time.

polar bear leaps ice floes
Credit: UNEP

As this older ice increasingly “gives way” to the younger and thinner ice, the Arctic becomes more prone to another unprecedented meltback similar to the 2007 season, when ice cover set an all-time minimum record, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“This thinner, younger ice makes the Arctic much more susceptible to rapid melt,” said Research Professor James Maslanik in an online story. “Our concern is that if the Arctic continues to get kicked hard enough toward one physical state, it becomes increasingly difficult to reestablish the sea ice conditions of 20 or 30 years ago.”

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