Science | October 24, 2020 5:19 pm

Why Isn’t Arctic Sea Ice Forming This Year?

Yet another cause for alarm from 2020

Laptev Sea
The Laptev Sea, when it's frozen.
NASA

The effects of climate change in the Arctic can be felt in a host of ways. Warmer temperatures are the most basic version, but along with that come a host of side effects. Among them are the threat of damage to mountains and an increased risk of tsunamis — worrying for any number of reasons.

That’s not the only reason to worry, though. At Earther, Dharna Noor has the details on a new cause for concern: this year, ice in the Arctic isn’t forming the way it usually does.

Why, exactly, is this a cause for alarm? Historically, ice in regions of the Arctic thaws in the warmer months and then freezes as it gets colder. The ecosystems that have developed there are based around this cycle, and indigenous communities in the region are also affected by it.

The issue, Earther reports, is centered around the Laptev Sea in Siberia — but the lack of freezing there has effects throughout the Arctic, causing ice elsewhere in the region to be thinner than it would normally be. It’s also not the only area experiencing this phenomenon: the Northwest Passage is going through something similar. It’s not hard to see why Arctic sea ice levels are presently at a record low — nor is it hard to speculate about what the repercussions of this might be in the months and years to come.

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