A new discovery in the Arctic region had been a topic of concern for many experts. The evidence was found in a place that was first thought to have the most robust structure of an ice sheet. The damage in the Arctic was a massive hole in one of its ancient formations and was initially found in May 2020. The unsuspected phenomenon on the sheet is discovered through the help of readings that were gathered from rift signals across the Arctic. 

Polynya in the Arctic Ice Sheet

Arctic Polynya
(Photo : NASA EOSDIS Worldview)

The case focused on the open water, called a polynya, which was the effect brought by the strange transition of the ice sheet. The specified polynya measuring 3,000-square-kilometer was charted on just the northern regions of Ellesmere Island. It signifies rapid changes taking place in the Arctic. 

The study said that although the hole was recently discovered, previous polynyas were already opened years ago. There were unrecorded cases of this phenomenon in the region in 1988 and 2004, but no one noticed it.

University of Toronto Mississauga's Arctic expert and author of the study Kent Moore said in an Advancing Earth and Space Science AGU report that the northern part of Ellesmere Island is actually hard to move and melt due to its thickness. It was the reason why previous studies did not theorize or have not found any polynyas in the region before. Thus, the formation of polynia in the area only highlights the chance in the Arctic.

The sea ice on Ellesmere Island's northern coast was recorded to have a standard thickness of 4 meters. This thickness is sufficient to maintain the structure of the sea ice and lasts for about five years. However, the ice sheet's strong composition is still vulnerable to the excessive temperatures brought to the northern regions.

Among the most impactful effects of this heat already inflicted one of the biggest chunks of the eastern Arctic and located at the Wandel Sea. This separate study confirmed that over half of the overlaying ice in the specified region was already lost. The case of the eastern Arctic melting was published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment, titled "Accelerated sea ice loss in the Wandel Sea points to a change in the Arctic's Last Ice Area (LIA)."

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Excessive Polynya Formation show LIA is Not Resilient To Warming

Unfortunately, the recent study found that Artic's LIA is less resilient to warming than previously thought. The condition of the LIA is significant to ice-dependent species because LIA could be the last refuge for Arctic marine mammals like polar bears.

The polynyas are known to manifest in the sheet whenever a storm breaks on the region. The strong winds brought by the calamity's natural force separate some chunks, creating polynya or small cracks in between. According to InsideHook, the first encounter of the experts with the subject of concern was on May 2020, where a massive storm hit northern Ellesmere Island. In just one day, the small crack transitioned to a large, elliptical polynya that scales to about 100 kilometers in length and 30 kilometers in width.

Before the month ended, the polynya abruptly closed, returning to its original icy formation. Many holes are expected to open up on the Arctic ice sheet in the future if the melting does not stop, but in the meantime, polynya may temporarily serve as a habitat for many animals in the region. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, titled "First Observations of a Transient Polynya in the Last Ice Area North of Ellesmere Island."

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