Gaping hole opened up in 'Last Ice Area' of the Arctic, NASA images show

It's a dramatically changing region.

10/16/2021 8:30:00 PM

The oldest, thickest, and toughest Arctic sea ice is weakening.

It's a dramatically changing region.

Credit: NASA EOSDIS WorldviewThe large May 2020 polynya was the first time polar researchers watched such a big hole opening up in the Last Ice Area. The study's leader, Moore, looked back at older satellite footage and spotted only two other (previously unnoticed) instances of polynyas forming there, in 2004 and 1988. During the 2004 event, which scientists have more data about, the winds were even stronger than in 2020, but the hole was

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smaller."The difference now is that the ice is thinner overall," said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who had no role in the research.The big Rhode Island-sized polynya suggests as Earth warms more big holes could open up in the Last Ice Area in the coming years, decades, and beyond, explained both Meier and the study's author, Moore.

In the greater Arctic, diminished and thinning sea ice has major implications:Sea ice provides necessary habitat for unique Arctic life."If we lose the ice, we lose all the ice-dependent ecosystems," emphasized Moore. This includes many walruses, polar bears, bird species, fish species, and beyond. In the case of polar bears, the loss of ice extends the period of time these marine mammals must fast as they wait for their feeding grounds to freeze up each winter. As ice continues to dwindle, headtopics.com

biologists expect many polar bear populations to die out this century. Read more: Mashable »

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