CRF Blog

Into Thin Ice

by Bill Hayes

In Into Thin Ice for National Geographic, Andy Isaacson looks at how Arctic ice is dwindling.

Arctic sea ice helps cool the whole planet by reflecting sunlight back into space. So its loss inevitably will affect the climate and weather beyond the Arctic, but precisely how remains unclear. Better forecasts require better data on sea ice and its shifting, uneven distribution. “Most scientific cruises to the Arctic are conducted in summer, and this is where we have the most field data,” says Gunnar Spreen, an NPI sea-ice physicist I met on board the Lance. “The continuous changes that occur from winter into spring are a huge gap in our understanding.”

On the Lance’s five-month mission its rotating crew of international scientists would investigate the causes and effects of ice loss by monitoring the ice across its entire seasonal life cycle — from the time when it formed in winter until it melted in summer. [more]