With global warming well underway, what is the status of ice floating in the Arctic Ocean?

Dear Tom,

With global warming well underway, what is the status of ice floating in the Arctic Ocean?

Alex Jennis,
Racine, Wisconsin

Dear Alex,
The outlook in bleak. The strongest and thickest ice in the Arctic Ocean has begun to break up for the first time in recorded history. This is in an area immediately north of Greenland, where ocean water normally remains frozen throughout the year. This “last ice area” was assumed to be the final place in the Northern Hemisphere to remain frozen, but abnormally warm temperatures this year have been melting the ice, and winds blowing across the Arctic have shifted the ice away from the coastline. “In the past, most of the ice in the Arctic has been multiyear ice. Now nearly all the ice in the Arctic is first-year ice,” says Peter Wadhams, an ice scientist at Cambridge University.

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