Sea ice and the Arctic coast

eroding coast and house in shishmaref, alaska

Like many villages along the Arctic coast, the Inupiaq village of Shishmaref, Alaska, is increasingly threatened by erosion, which is aggravated by the loss of sea ice and increased temperatures that lead to permafrost thaw. Credit: Shishmaref Alaska Erosion & Relocation Coalition

Why does it matter if the Arctic sea ice melts? We often hear about the global consequences: waning sea ice is expected to lead to even more climate warming. On a more immediate and local level, the loss of summer sea ice is already affecting the land and people near the Arctic Ocean. As the ice melts to reveal the open ocean underneath, fragile coastlines become vulnerable to bigger waves and storms. Continue reading

When will the Arctic lose its sea ice?

sea ice and icebergs

Scientists expect the Arctic to lose most of its summer ice cover by the end of this century, and are working to determine when this might happen. Here, open water in Fram Strait, in the Canadian Arctic, is interspersed with chunks of sea ice. Credit: Angelika Renner

If you have been following the topic of Arctic sea ice, you have probably seen a few headlines warning that the Arctic is about to lose its summer ice cover. Although scientists agree that Arctic sea ice is declining, they have published several different estimates of when the last of the sea ice will melt in summer, leaving more ocean surface open to absorb heat and add to global warming. What is behind all these different predictions? Continue reading