Arctic Ice Retreat Creates Giant Swells For The First Time
The Beaufort Sea in Arctic Ocean is usually frozen. The water is covered with ice most of the time. But researchers have recorded giant waves, as high as 16 feet, just north of Alaska. Swells of that size have stunned the scientists because they have the potential to break up Arctic ice much faster than expected. The North is changing, and it’s changing fast as the sea ice retreats due to global warming.
Jim Thomson of the University of Washington recorded the wave measurements with the help of sensors. The house-size waves were measured during a September 2012 storm. Thomson told The Washington Post that 16 feet swells were the average. The biggest single wave was about 29 feet.
Until recently, the Arctic Ocean remained ice-covered throughout the summer, so there were no waves to measure. But the area of open water is increasing. Thomson said the Arctic ice never retreated more than 100 miles during summer in the past. But in 2012, it retreated well over 1,000 miles. The expanded ice retreat leaves much of the Beaufort Sea ice-free by the end of summer.
Another Massive Hole Appears in Siberia
It’s uncertain yet what’s caused the sinkholes, but experts said global warming may play a part, when permafrost melts, gas is released, causing an underground explosion.