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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
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Arctic Ice Thinning

Item #d98nov42

The Times of London reported on Nov. 23 that two Arctic scientists, Peter Wadhams and Norman Davis of the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge, England, had announced that the ice in the Arctic is up to a third thinner than it was 20 years ago. They came to this conclusion after studying sonar readings from British submarines spanning from 1976 to 1996. During that time, the average ice thickness has appeared to shrink from 6 m to 2 m. Researchers at the Nansen Environmental Remote Sensing Centre in Bergen, Norway, confirmed that satellite pictures show a shrinkage in the area of the Arctic icecap of about 5% during the past 18 years. Fears are that the thaw could lead to large disruptions of the world’s ocean circulations, which could significantly affect regional climates and the economy. The Arctic is crucial region. The melting and freezing of Arctic seawater drives oceanic circulations, affects worldwide weather, and reflects heat from the sun back into space. The Cambridge scientists hope to clarify the findings by comparing the 1990s data to measurements taken in the 1960s by British and American submarines.

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