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'Scary': After Abnormally Warm Winter, Arctic's Strongest Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record

Ice that's generally about 65 feet thick has become much thinner due to warming trends, allowing the unusually warm winds blowing through the region to push the ice apart

The strongest sea ice in the Arctic began breaking up for the first time in recorded history, according to scientists. (Photo: Christopher Michel/Flickr/cc)

After abnormal heatwaves this year in the Arctic, the region's oldest and thickest sea ice has thinned out considerably—to the point of breaking up in recent days.

As the Guardian reported, the Norwegian Ice Service found this week that the ice cover in the area off the northern coast of Greenland has been at record low levels at least 14 days in the past month, sometimes reaching levels 40 percent lower than the average for this time of year.

The new development is causing grave concerns among climate scientists regarding their previously-held beliefs about the Arctic's ice.

"Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual," Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told the Guardian. "This area has often been called 'the last ice area' as it has been suggested that the last perennial sea ice in the Arctic will occur here."

Heatwaves last February and this month as well as warm winds have pushed ice that is generally about 65 feet thick away from Greenland's northern coast. Warming trends that have been maintained over the last 15 years, according to scientists, has made ice that's usually packed close together, much less stable.

Generally, "The ice there has nowhere else to go so it piles up," research scientist Walt Meier of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center told the Guardian. "However, that was not the case this past winter in February and March and now. The ice is being pushed away from the coast by the winds."

"It's a pretty dramatic indication of the transformation of the Arctic sea ice and Arctic climate," Meier added.

Another climate researcher, Thomas Lavergne of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, called the findings "scary" on social media.

Scientists have traced the record-defying ice thinning back to a notable heatwave in February.

As Common Dreams reported, a weather station in northern Greenland usually registers temperatures of about -4 degrees Fahrenheit in February, but this year there were 10 days that month where warm winds and temperatures above freezing were recorded.

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