A Warm Winter Cyclone Thinned The Arctic Sea Ice, NASA Reveals (Video)

First Posted: Nov 16, 2016 03:07 AM EST

NASA discovered that a huge warm winter cyclone that crossed the Arctic in December 2015 for several days thinned and shrunk the sea ice. This had caused the temperature to be 18 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average and thinned the ice by 4 inches.

NASA reports that the cyclone formed on Dec. 28, 2015, in the middle of the North Atlantic. It went to the United Kingdom and Iceland and entered the Arctic on Dec. 30, 2015. It stayed for several days and caused extreme warm and humid air to the surface of sea ice in the Kara-Barent region. This resulted to the thinning of the sea ice by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters) on average. It also compacted the ice pack as the storm winds pushed the edges of the sea ice north.

Linette Boisvert, a sea ice scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that during the cyclone, the sea ice retreated northward, causing a loss in coverage equaling the area of the state of Florida. She described the temperature as one of the warmest over the AIRS period.

Boisvert further said that AIRS period also coincides with the warmest decade on record, so this storm being the hottest is a big deal. AIRS or the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder is NASA's satellite with special instruments. The researchers used AIR and could study the air temperature and humidity, according to CHRON.

In the model projections of Arctic sea ice, it indicates that ice thickness will continue to reduce over the next decades. Alek Petty, a co-author of the study and a sea ice researcher at Goddard, said that in their study, they discovered that the thinnest ice was completely melted out by storm. He further said that may be in the coming years, if they start with a thinner winter ice pack they will see extreme events like these cause even bigger melt-outs across the Arctic. 

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