Experts from various countries are closely monitoring the state of the Arctic sea ice because this region is the “kitchen weather” of the planet. Since 1979, they have used satellite images but applied different methods to assess the area covered by ice. Scientists from the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute of the Russian meteorological service in St. Petersburg are leaning on rich experience gained by field studies, which foreign experts do not have.
The findings show that the “Arctic sea ice is “rejuvenating” and this is a seasonal change but not the disappearance of ice, says Dr. Genrikh Alekseev.
“The reason here is that in the summer, ice melts, while in the winter, ice is formed. Practically, the territory covered by the winter ice shrinks very slowly. In the winter, the ice layer is restored. But this concerns especially the newly formed ice which is growing, and by next year, its thickness reaches up to one-meter or more,” Genrikh Alekseev said.
In winter, the newly formed ice actively grows up to a 1.2 meter thick layer, while the costal ice grows up to 2.0 meters. Consequently, the Arctic sea ice layer does not change significantly. Moreover, according to Genrikh Alekseev, in the summer, ice melts in various seas unequally. This year, the seas through which the Northern Shipping Route passes are covered with an unusually thicker ice layer. The Barents Sea is covered by a thin ice layer, but the amount of ice in the Kara, Laptev, East-Siberian and Chukotskiy seas exceeds the level of 2007. The conditions in the Arctic in the warm summer can be considered abnormal, but the Northern Shipping Route has not been completely freed from ice yet. This means icebreakers will be needed in the future, says the scientist.
“According to forecasts made by using calculations on global models, by the end of the century ice might disappear almost completely in the summer, but ice will be formed up to the previous borders in the winter,” Genrikh Alekseev added.
The extreme melting of ice in the summer 2012 is most likely the last gesture that the warming is ending. In fact, ice is a product of climate, and when comparing the graphs of the air temperature and melting ice, one can see that they coincide, Genrikh Alekseev said.
The long-term monitoring by the experts at the institute confirms the presence of a 60-year climate fluctuating cycle when reorganization of atmospheric processes and circulation of oceans related to them are taking place. At present, according to their calculations, another period of warming is ending, while the previous warming peak was registered between 1930 and 1940. The nature of these cycles is known vaguely, and scientists are still unaware of the laws under which oceans live.