Brown marine scientists have confirmed what many had long suspected: the polar ice cap is melting and that warming temperatures are pushing the sea ice to the edge of extinction.
“We’re now in the position where the ice is melting faster than we think it’s going to continue to do, and the ice shelf is going to break,” said Jennifer Francis, a marine biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
“We’re already at the tipping point, and that tipping point is approaching.
The ice is starting to disintegrate, and it’s a lot more vulnerable to melting and collapse.”
Francis is leading the latest research to document the impact of climate change on the Arctic.
She’s using a combination of remote sensing, climate models and computer models to determine what’s happening at the seafloor.
She and her team have used a technique called multibeam sonar to measure the extent of ice in the ice shelves of the Chukchi Sea and Kara Sea.
The team’s work shows that while the Chuka and Kara seas have experienced a warming trend in recent decades, the ice on both the Chuki and Kara shelves has been retreating for several decades.
They say the ice sheet is now about 70% of what it was in 1950.
Francis and her colleagues are also working to figure out what will happen to the sea-ice sheets in the Beaufort and Beaufort Sea.
In particular, they’re looking at the effects of climate warming on the ice in these areas.
“There’s been a big shift in climate over the last few decades and the Beaufriars are particularly affected,” Francis said.
That could be a big problem for the whole shelf.””
So in that scenario, there will be more melting and less ice on the bottom of that, so you’re looking for those areas to lose ice and there will also be more erosion.
That could be a big problem for the whole shelf.”
The study was published online last week in the journal Nature Communications.
Francises team found that the ice near the Arctic’s edge has been shrinking faster than the rest of the shelf.
They found that between 1950 and 2050, the Beauforts ice shelf lost an average of 4.6 million square kilometers of ice every year.
But from 2010 to 2020, that rate dropped to just 1.4 million square km a year.
The decline has accelerated in the last two decades, Francis said, and in 2020, the area around the Beau fort had lost more ice than the entire Chukchis shelf.
“When you’re in that ice shelf, there is this thin crust that you can’t see,” Francis explained.
“You can see the edges of the ice, but you can also see where the water is moving, and what the temperature is like.
The whole shelf is just sitting there, and you can just barely see the ice edge, because the water just keeps moving across the ice.”
Francises and her co-authors say the changes in the climate are changing the structure of the seaflp in the sea.
The seaflops, which are a thin layer of water on the seaflate that float along the seafoam, are constantly shifting and changing as the ocean heats up.
As the sea surface heats up, the seafloam becomes thicker, and more seawater is pushed into the sea from below.
The resulting changes in seawater density and thickness change the amount of energy that can flow through the ice.
That change is one of the reasons that, over the past few decades, temperatures have been rising in the Arctic, Francis explained, which is leading to a higher percentage of the Beaufs ice shelf melting.
“The Beaufort sea ice is actually growing more and more thin,” Francis added.
“As you get more water in, the water flows up, and then it becomes a little bit thicker.
And that’s because it’s getting warmer and warmer.”
Francides team is looking at what the melting of the Arctic shelf will mean for coastal communities and the ocean, which could have an impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Francides says there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered about how the melting will affect the Cheshire, the Chessex and other bay habitats.
She says that her team is still investigating some of the most fundamental questions about how changing sea ice can impact the Cheshams bay, and how it might affect fisheries in the bay.
“I think we’re all going to need to come back to the bay in the summertime and see what we’re going to see,” she said.
“This is a major change that is happening right now and we need to get to the bottom and understand what the impacts will be.”
Francislis and other Brown researchers say the findings could have implications for the Cheslams fisheries, as well as for the health