Arctic sea ice
Why in news? A recent study in the Nature journal says that the loss of Arctic sea ice is inevitable in the decades ahead, even if the world somehow gets its act together and sharply reduces carbon emissions.
Why is the Arctic sea ice important?
- The massive sheets of ice that pad the Arctic region play a major role in influencing global climate and the rise and fall in Arctic sea temperatures.
- Sea ice is light-coloured and therefore reflects more sunlight back to space than liquid water, thus playing a vital role in keeping polar regions cool and maintaining the earth’s energy balance.
- It also keeps the air cool by forming a barrier between the cold air above and the relatively warmer water below.
- Changes in sea ice can affect biodiversity and impact mammals such as polar bears and walruses, rely on the presence of sea ice for hunting, breeding, and migrating.
- The reduction in ice cover also affects the traditional subsistence hunting lifestyle of indigenous Arctic populations such as the Yup’ik, Inupiat, and Inuit.
- Reduced ice can present “commercial and economic opportunities” with the opening up of shipping lanes and increased access to natural resources in the Arctic region.
How artic sea is affecting geography ?
- The diminished sea ice while warming the Arctic also leads to a weakening of the polar jet streams, currents of air that form when warm and cold air meet.
- Weakening has been linked to rising temperatures and heatwaves in Europe as well as unseasonal showers in northwest India.
About Artic Sea
- It is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s five major oceans and is known as one of the coldest of oceans
- It has been also been described as an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.
- It is also seen as the northernmost part of the all-encompassing World Ocean.
- Countries bordering includes land masses of Eurasia (Russia and Norway), North America (Canada and the U.S. state of Alaska), Greenland, and Iceland.