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  • This year, full ice coverage – the point at which the ice reaches its peak an then starts melting – was reached on 25 February, more than two weeks before the expected date of mid-March.

    This year, full ice coverage – the point at which the ice reaches its peak an then starts melting – was reached on 25 February, more than two weeks before the expected date of mid-March. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 May 2015

The consequences are far-reaching, deplored investigators who are calling for urgent state action. 

After a period of colder temperatures and slower ice retreat between 2007 and 2012, the North Pole is going through a moment of faster ice-melting and hotter temperatures, announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists on Tuesday.

According to satellite data, the scientists found that the peak of ice coverage before it starts melting was reached on Feb. 25 – more than two weeks earlier than expected, explained Jeff Key at NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service’s center.

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The consequences are far-reaching, warned the investigators, calling for urgent state action. Among others, the fact that ice was melting faster has had a harmful impact on the levels of fat contained in zooplankton, a fish food essential to sustain the whole ecosystem of the Arctic, explained Ed Farley, a scientist with NOAA’s Alaska fisheries science center.

With zooplankton containing lower levels of fat, Arctic wildlife including fishes, seals, polar bears, and indigenous communities has also lower chances to survive the harsh winter months.

The Arctic cod, a fish with high fat content, will also likely disappear from the sea, as its ideal temperature is about 7C.

However the ice melting faster will benefit to oil and gas exploration companies, and at the same time the ships moving through the North Pole will consist in an additional disruptive factor for the sea-life, warned the scientists.

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