This Week in Ice: Dec. 17-23

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I am travelling for Christmas, so this week’s post won’t be as extensive as usual. So, this week in ice, Polar Bird and Wordy Bird Studio are wishing you all a very Merry Everything. May your iceberg be festooned with penguins—except if it’s in the Arctic… because penguins and Santa? Well, come on now…

And speaking of Christmas, see how concentrations of greenhouse gases have changed since that very first Christmas:

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about albedo. Albedo is a measure of reflectivity. Sea ice has high albedo, meaning it has high reflectivity, and most of the solar radiation (sunlight) that hits it is reflected away from the planet.

Just as you get warmer when you wear darker clothes, when ice is covered in something darker, such as algae or dust, it has lower albedo—it absorbs more solar radiation. Lower albedo = faster melting.

But a new study found that algal growth on the Greenland ice sheet reduces its albedo and influences melting more than dust and black carbon, which has implications for how scientists may project future sea level rise. And as temperatures warm, algae thrives. Algae accounts for 5-10% of ice sheet loss (in Greenland) each year.

Current Sea Ice Conditions

ARCTIC

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Credit: NSIDC

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Credit: NSIDC

And this is interesting:

Arctic sea ice is low, and temperatures are high.

More than 20°C above average.

The Arctic has changed, and the latest Arctic Report Card says it will likely never return to being the Arctic we have known.

ANTARCTIC

Sea ice in the Antarctic is also well below the mean.

S_daily_concentration_hires

Credit: NSIDC

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Credit: NSIDC

I will be back next week with my usual full-length ice news. In the New Year, I’ll also be sharing my recent interview with filmmakers Stephen Smith and Diana Kushner of Enduring Ice, who kayaked 500 miles from the North Pole while making their upcoming documentary about the plight of Arctic sea ice.

Until next time, I will leave you with this fabulous footage from above Antarctica. Have a safe, peaceful, and happy holiday!

 

 

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