Study: Sea ice will remain for polar bears

Dec. 15, 2010 at 5:16 PM
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PALISADES, N.Y., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Summer sea ice will persist in the arctic for decades even with global warming, providing refuge for polar bears, seals and other animals, researchers say.

U.S. scientists say climate models predict arctic sea ice will continue to pile up on the northern side of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland, where the thickest sea ice exists today, an article in the journal Nature reported Wednesday.

Stephanie Pfirman, an environmental scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, estimates that an area of ice perhaps 200,000 square miles in size is likely to persist year-round long into the 21st century.

Some of this ice is formed locally, and some is driven in from Siberia by wind and ocean currents.

Although the amount of ice that melts each summer is increasing as global temperatures rise, ice is still forming in the winter and is being transported to the Canadian side of the Arctic faster than before because the waters are more open.

"If it used to take eight or nine years to make the trip, it might now do it in seven years," Robert Newton, a geochemist also at Lamont-Doherty, says.

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