The planet is warming up, and scientist are growing increasingly concerned over the rapid climate change — and the lack of action from the government and the public. This summer, arctic ice is expected to melt at a faster rate than ever before as the rising temperatures in Alaska set new records.
Staff at the Barrow, Alaska observatory have reported early snowmelt, essentially depriving the arctic of its usual winter. High temperatures are a threat to both animals and humans in the arctic, causing dangerously thin ice and a complete change in how life is lived when so much depends on a colder climate.
Ed Alexander, Yukon Flats Centre Coordinator for the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, stated, “You can’t trust the ice. This is the warmest winter that we have ever seen up here. We have had less snow. We have had real thin ice. We have had an explosion of growth in the brush clogging up trails and that kind of thing. It makes everything dangerous.”
January through April was 11 degrees above normal, and this has been the earliest melt in 73 years of following the snowmelt on record. On March 24th, 2016, the arctic sea ice reached its peak for the year, which means that the sea ice is well below typical levels. We’ve see a significant drop since the 1980s, as the chart below shows.
Dacho Alexander, a local magistrate and Ed’s brother, states, “I normally like to have an ice thickness of between 24 and 36 inches and generally up here we have about 34 to 36 inches.”
The ice thickness this year? A mere 20 inches.
Scientists are concerned about the routine reactions from the public as well as the results of the records. Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma, states, “It’s becoming monotonous in a way.” The melting will eventually significantly change the Atlantic Ocean currents, causing a change in the climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It leaves many of us wondering what the future holds for our planet and its inhabitants.