In the Arctic, sea ice is vanishing, even faster than models of global warming have predicted. The disappearing act could affect far-away weather patterns, as changes at the sea surface affect air currents that steer powerful weather-makers such as the jet stream. And without ice protection, erosion of fragile coasts could speed up. Such erosion could dump carbon molecules into the water that increase ocean acidification and affect sea life. Newly open waters will also change shipping lanes, affect oil exploration, and create new challenges to national security.
It is no wonder that a lot of people want to know why the ice is going away. One possilbe culprit: Giant ice-smashing waves.
In this video, taken 150 miles from the nearest land, oceanographer James Thomson of the University of Washington explains how researchers are tracking these ocean rollers. He says scientists are "using buoys to measure the waves and the ice, and understand how waves are approaching the ice and breaking up the sea ice." Other scientists show how robotic drones, called Seagliders, swoop under the ice to track the movement of the pack and how it changes as ocean conditions change. Read more about the expedition, and the search for house-sized waves of destruction, here.
(Video courtesy University of Washington)