Thanks to one of the coldest winters in decades, the frozen ocean water in the Eastern and High Arctic has regained coverage and thickness at near-normal levels. This has happened despite sea ice levels around the globe nearing record lows.
Canadian researchers have recently returned from expedition to the High Arctic, north of Labrador, and stated that the sea ice has returned to a thickness of nearly 3.5 feet in most areas.
Christian Haas, from the Canada Research Chair in Arctic sea ice geophysics, and the expedition’s team leader, said, “The ice has been quite thick according to the local hunters. It’s quite remarkable given that a few years ago, people broke through the ice because it was so thin.”
The researchers believe that the gain in coverage and thickness is likely the result of a very cold winter. Air temperatures in these parts of the Arctic during January and February were the lowest they’ve been on more than 22 years.
The sea ice to the far north and east of the Arctic seems to be an anomaly. Elsewhere — in Antarctica and the western Arctic — sea ice levels are at historic lows.
They added that in the Western Arctic, above-normal temperatures led ice in the Beaufort Sea to be thinner than a meter in early March. Meanwhile the Canadian Ice Service is still awaiting data on patterns for 2015.
The service’s senior ice forecaster Claude Dicaire said he’s keeping a close eye on the multi-year ice in the region.
Dicaire said, “The only concern would be the ice slabs that remains [year after year] in the Beaufort Sea have moved somewhat towards the South. It seems to be getting close and closer to the shore. Most of the ice on the south part of Beaufort Sea is winter ice, which will [melt].”
The researchers added that the satellite data show ice levels in the rest of the Arctic — and overall — are at their lowest levels this winter. They added that it’s not clear, however, whether summer lows will be matched as well.