There is Less Arctic Sea Ice Than Previously Thought


Sea Ice on Arctic Coasts Is Thinner Than Previously Thought

by Theresa Machemer/

The area covered by sea ice in the Arctic is relatively easy to measure with satellite imagery. NASA reports sea ice is decreasing about 13 percent per decade. But the thickness of that ice—which affects wildlife, hunting, fishing and shipping—is more difficult to estimate because the ice is partially submerged and weighed down by snow.

Research published on June 4 in the journal Cryosphere uses new estimates of snow cover to update models of sea ice thickness, Damian Carrington reports for the Guardian. Previous snow cover estimates mostly come from data collected between 1954 and 1991, so the new study combines radar measurements with models of temperature, snowfall and the movements of ice sheets to find more accurate calculations of ice thickness. The evidence suggests that in some areas, ice is thinning at about twice as fast as previously estimated.

“Sea ice thickness remains highly uncertain compared to the area that the sea ice covers. However, this paper is a significant advance in characterizing the trends that we’re seeing in the thickness, ….Read More:


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