BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The world’s icebox is undergoing some serious defrosting.
Alex DeMetrick reports science is finding the loss of ice in the arctic is affecting our own weather.
The top of the world is not what it was. It used to be arctic ice stayed mostly frozen solid in summer. Not anymore.
“Since 1979, we’ve lost about one third of the ice cover. So this is about enough ice to cover one third of the continental United States. So it’s a substantial amount of ice,” said Dr. Nathan Kurtz, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Dr. Kurtz is part of NASA’s Earth science team focused on the changes a warmer climate is having on the arctic.
“And it’s not just losing the area, it’s getting thinner as well,” he said.
What used to be ten feet thick in summer is now down to five feet thick. Decades of observations from space show it happening. Watch the difference between summer ice in 1983 to 2012–a year of record melt.
A warmer arctic also means a change in the jet stream. Last winter, Maryland and much of the country suffered through bitter cold.
“It’s not a winter wonderland. It’s a winter horrorland. That’s what it is,” one man said.
Because the jet stream dipped low, bringing arctic winter air with it. And it’s still dipping.
“What that’s brought is a cooler summer to us here on the East Coast, cooler summers in the Midwest, but also a heatwave in the west,” Dr. Kurtz said.
And with the arctic warming faster than the rest of the planet, more water and less ice in summer might become the new normal.
NASA is seeing slightly less melting in the arctic this summer, but it’s still well above the melt rates of the 1970s.
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