The thickest and most resilient sea ice in the Arctic, the “Last Ice Area”, which was expected to be the last refuge for ice reliant animals, is now on course to disappear along with the rest of the world’s sea ice by the summer of 2040.
The global population of animals such as polar bears, bowhead whales, narwhals, and ringed seals is under threat and the Last Ice Area – a region spanning 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the coast of Greenland to the Canadian Arctic – was a part of the Arctic that was only expected to be melting at current levels by 2070. Alaska’s Arctic ice sheets completely melted in the summer for the first time in recorded history two years ago.
But the Last Ice Area, which, over the last 15 years of climate modeling, scientists predicted would not melt at the same rate due to how thick and old the ice is in the chunk of ice that’s located north of Greenland, is starting to show signs of melting away along with the rest of the Ice in the Wandel Sea.
“has been considered to be a refuge for ice-dependent species in a future ice-free summer Arctic,” according to the University of Washington’s (UW) School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Kristin Laidre, a principal researcher at the Polar Science Center.
“If, as the paper shows, the area is changing faster than expected, it may not be the refuge we have been depending on,” Laidre told Live Science.
during the summer of 2020, the Wandel Sea in the eastern part of the Last Ice Area lost 50% of its overlying ice, bringing coverage there to its lowest since record-keeping began. Many animals that depend on sea ice for breeding, hunting, and foraging.
This is due to global warming and climate change, as well as changing ocean currents that are also caused by climate change. And while the rest of the Arctic’s ice melts around the Last Ice Area, the sun is able to reach the depths of the ocean underneath the Last Ice Area, making it melt at an accelerated rate.
This is highly concerning not only due to the threats it poses to natural wildlife and the global climate catastrophe that we face due to rising sea levels, but it also shows that our modeling (as it has for the past 15 years) could be wrong and things could be getting a lot worse, a lot sooner than we expected them to.