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Arctic, the last and oldest ice breaks for the first time due to high temperatures

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has broken up for the first time on record. The event has been caused by the unusual heat wave that hit the area this summer.

In northern Greenland, the thickest and oldest sea ice has started to break up. It’s the first time on record in an area that has always remained compacted throughout the seasons, even in the warmer summer months.

Climate chance is most likely the cause

UK newspaper The Guardian has reported the news, underlying that it represents a scary event. According to scientists, the phenomenon has been caused by an unprecedented heat wave that has hit the northern hemisphere and that was driven by climate change. Between February and August, numerous abnormal temperature peaks have been registered in the Arctic regions. This would have made sea ice more fragile.

The last and oldest Arctic ice area breaks up for the first time due to warm temperatures
The breaking up of the thickest and oldest sea ice in the Arctic has been defined “scary” © Mario Tama/Getty Images

The finishing blow has been probably given by warm winds that blew in the area. “Almost all of the ice to the north of Greenland is quite shattered and broken up and therefore more mobile,” Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told the Guardian. “Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual,” she warns.

The oldest sea ice in the Arctic could now melt faster

Experts tweeted a series of animated graphs that clearly show the ongoing phenomenon: warmer seas (in blue) enter in between Greenland coasts and the sea ice (yellow/orange).

This area is (was) called “the last ice area” because it is considered resistant to the effects of a warmer climate, at least up to now. The ice in this area is particularly thick thanks to a current coming from Siberia. But now the situation could even get worse because the fracture could make penetrate warmer waters, accelerating the process, as Thomas Lavergne, a scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, explained. “The thick old sea ice will have been pushed away from the coast, to an area where it will melt more easily”.

Featured image: a photo of sea ice in Greenland taken in 2013
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