Home Research Decline in oldest Arctic sea ice causes stir; Canada bans microbeads and...

Decline in oldest Arctic sea ice causes stir; Canada bans microbeads and more


Decline in Arctic sea ice isn’t new and has been happening and being reported over the last few years. Major causes to blame are global warming and climate change among other things. However, a new report by NASA now indicates that the decline in sea ice isn’t just limited to the new ice that gets formed each year, but is also more prominent in the older sea ice (5 years or more) indicating that there are major issues that lie ahead.

Through the report NASA points out that the decline in sea ice and the thinning of the old ice is creating a cyclic problem that is leaving the Arctic more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere. NASA shows in a new video growth and shrinking of new ice, melting in many places as well as spinning and drifting of the sea ice out of the Arctic over the last 30 years. The age of the ice is represented in shades of blue-gray to white, with the brightest whites representing the oldest ice.

NASA explains that these visualisations are based on data they have collected from drifting buoys, weather stations, computer models, and 12 satellites (mostly passive microwave instruments) that have made measurements over the past 40 years. Passive microwave instruments measure brightness temperature, the microwave energy emitted by sea ice due to its temperature, salinity, surface texture, and the amount of snow on top of it. Each ice floe has a characteristic brightness temperature, so researchers developed a way to identify and track ice floes in successive microwave images as they moved across the Arctic.

Back in September 1984 the old Arctic sea ice was spread over 1.86 million square kilometers at its yearly minimum extent. Fast forward to September 2016 and the old ice cover is limited to just 110,000 square kilometers. Direct measurements of sea ice thickness have been sporadic and incomplete across the Arctic, so scientists have developed estimates of ice age.

You are responsible for decline in Arctic Sea Ice

A new study has shown that each one of us on planet Earth is responsible for the decline in the Arctic summer sea ice cover. The study is published in journal Science.

Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and colleagues at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre have for the first time provided us with individual contribution to the global climate change as well as the decline in Arctic sea ice. According to the study, for each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) we emit, as much as three square metres of Arctic summer sea ice disappear.

Scientists say that the declining ice levels in the Arctic are a direct proof that climate change is indeed happening and over the last four decades, the sea ice cover at the North Pole has shrunk by more than half. Scientists have also predicted that if the current levels of emissions continue, the remaining half might be gone by mid-century.

Canada moves to ban microbeads

The Canadian Government has taken a tough stance against microbeads and other such tiny plastic pollutants by banning them as they are increasingly becoming a risk for the Arctic as a whole and its ecosystems in particular.

According to the announcement in the Official Gazette, the Government of Canada has announced a ban on microbeads and other microplastics that are equal to or less than 5 mm in size. The ban, which will be effective from July 1, 2018, dictates that companies manufacturing scrubs, bath products, facial cleansers, and toothpastes will not be able to use these microbeads. A year later, the ban will be extended under which use of such microbeads in natural health products and non-prescription drugs will not be allowed.