Arctic’s thickest ice breaking up
In another worrying sign of global warming, the strongest and thickest ice in the Arctic has begun to break up for the first time. The waters north of Greenland usually remain completely frozen over throughout the year; scientists had labeled this “the last ice area,” on the assumption it would be the final place in the north to remain frozen. But abnormally warm temperatures this year have melted the ice down, making it thinner—and winds blowing across the Arctic are shifting it away from the coastline. “In the past, most of the ice in the Arctic has been multiyear ice,” Peter Wadhams, an ice scientist at Cambridge University, tells The Independent (U.K.). “Now nearly all the ice in the Arctic is first-year ice.” Wadhams says the phenomenon could have “serious” consequences for wildlife. Polar bears use northern Greenland’s cliffs to create dens for hibernation; when they emerge in spring, they may find their usual hunting grounds have floated away into the ocean.