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Author Topic: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?  (Read 1351 times)

Offline Expectant_Philosopher

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Over the years icebreaking ship technology has improved to the point where they can keep northern shipping lanes open year round. Has the decreased reflectivity of the ice pack caused excess warming and earlier summer thaws?
« Last Edit: 04/04/2014 18:36:23 by Expectant_Philosopher »


 

Offline alan hess

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #1 on: 04/04/2014 23:55:33 »
Personally, I'd say yes. Anytime you increase exposed surface area, it will have a greater affect than one solid chunk.
 

Offline Expectant_Philosopher

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #2 on: 05/04/2014 06:30:37 »
A 2012, article from National Snow and Ice Data Center concludes the impact of icebreaking to be minimal because there are only three US icebreakers in the Arctic at any one time. See link below.  But it fails to mention the annual impact of 37 Russian, 7 Swedish, 7 Finn, 6 Canadian, 4 Danish, 2 Chinese, and the more than 11 other icebreaking vessels of various countries.  In the past this number was merely increased by several hundred ice-hardened commercial vessels, but as the waters were kept clearer, now countries are sending hundreds more non-ice-hardened commercial shipping vessels.  The threats to sovereignty has induced world navies to send more warships to the region to keep a continual presence.  And now with evidence of arctic ice disappearing, more government and private research icebreakers and other vessels are heading north than ever before to study the effect that this activity itself may be causing.

https://nsidc.org/icelights/2012/04/12/are-icebreakers-changing-the-climate/
 

Offline Expectant_Philosopher

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #3 on: 05/04/2014 06:37:05 »
I'd like to propose a moratorium on any arctic naval activity for a full year, and one international team to determine whether the polar ice pack thawing is reduced.  If it is reduced then the UN must impose strict limits on usage of this global resource for our future.
 

Offline alan hess

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #4 on: 05/04/2014 16:33:47 »
While agree with you that breaking the ice into smaller pieces allows it to melt faster, climate change is more related to the earth axis tilt. This allows the sun to rise higher in the sky toward the northern hemisphere, which is where the ice melting is coming from.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #5 on: 05/04/2014 19:46:03 »
The Arctic is HUGE.  The central ice covered region is about 14 million square km, or larger than the entire USA or entire Canada.

A couple of dozen ships won't make a huge impact on the local melting of the ice, and would generally have greatest impact localized to the ports and shipping lanes.  Consider what it would be like to have 20 trucks scattered across the whole USA.

HOWEVER, there are two methods that the Arctic melts.  Local melting, and movement of the ice including flushing through the Fram Strait, where the ice exits from the Arctic and melts in warmer climates. 

The arctic ice is typically already broken into floes, even in the middle of the winter, and is somewhat mobile.  However, the icebreakers may have an impact loosening the ice along the banks, as well as breaking the pieces into smaller chunks that can be flushed out of the arctic easier. 

I'm not sure of the shipping routes, but I would generally prohibit icebreakers from operating in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard island, as well as generally prohibiting them from operating along the north and east coasts of Greenland.  Perhaps also  restricting their use north of the Canadian archipelago where some of the oldest ice resides.

I've wondered about designing a system of buoys that would slow the movement of ice through the Fram strait, but would worry that any reduction of ice along East Greenland may have a significant effect in central Greenland which could be disastrous. 
 

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Re: Does improved icebreaking speed thawing of polar ice?
« Reply #5 on: 05/04/2014 19:46:03 »

 

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