Fresh research published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has indicated that the Arctic Ocean's blanket of sea ice is now mostly younger, thinner ice.
That research was led by scientist Ron Kwok, who says this has changed since 1958 when the Arctic Ocean's ice was predominantly older, and thicker.
Kwok revealed that with so little thick, old ice left, the rate of decrease in ice thickness has slowed. Therefore, new ice grows faster but is more vulnerable to weather and wind, so ice thickness has become more variable.
To uncover the data, Kwok worked with a combination of satellite records and declassified submarine sonar data, enabling him to construct a 60-year record of Arctic sea ice thickness.
Right now, Arctic sea ice is the youngest and thinnest it's been since we started keeping records, NASA said, with more than 70 per cent of Arctic sea ice now being seasonal, which means it grows in the winter and melts in the summer, but doesn't last from year to year.
This seasonal ice melts faster and breaks up easier, making it much more susceptible to wind and atmospheric conditions.
Kwok's research found that since 1958, Arctic ice cover has lost about two-thirds of its thickness, as averaged across the Arctic at the end of summer. Older ice has shrunk in area by almost 800,000 square miles. Today, 70 per cent of the ice cover consists of seasonal ice that forms and melts within a single year.
This increase in seasonal ice also means record-breaking changes in ice cover, Kwok noted. He added that there has not been a new record sea ice minimum since 2012, despite years of warm weather in the Arctic.
"We've lost so much of the thick ice that changes in thickness are going to be slower due to the different behavior of this ice type," Kwok saud.
The news follows a report earlier this week that stated Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest level for 2018. That was according to NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that, at 1.77 million square miles, 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.
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