Scientists fear that sea ice melting in much of the Arctic maybe twice as fast as previously thought, raising fears that parts of the region may be ice-free by 2040, and that it will not lead to higher temperatures It will also increase the risks of extreme weather and flooding in many coastal areas around the world. The researchers studied data from a European Space Agency satellite to analyze changes in Arctic sea ice.
Given the difficulties of calculating sea ice thickness from satellite radar data alone, the researchers used new computer models to produce detailed estimates of snow cover from 2002 to 2018. This was because previous snow data was outdated and based on measurements made by Soviet expeditions on drift ice between 1954 and 1991, according to researchers at University College London (UCL).
The new models assessed the depth and density of snow by tracking snowfall, ice floe motion, and temperature to help calculate the thickness of the glacier ice. They found that the rate of decline in coastal areas of the Arctic was 70 to 100 percent faster than previously thought.
The team said that the waters in the three coastal seas of Laptev, Kara, and Chukchi, increased by 70%, 98%, and 110%, respectively, compared to previous calculations, and they added that across all seven coastal seas, the variation in sea ice thickness from year to year increased by 58%.
Ice loss in these areas will not only raise global temperatures but also increase the risks of extreme weather and flooding in many coastal regions around the world. The researchers also said that the thinning of sea ice in coastal Arctic seas has implications for human activity in the region, both in terms of shipping along the Northern Sea Route, as well as the extraction of resources from the seafloor, such as oil, gas, and minerals.