Recent satellite imagery shows some of the Arctic’s oldest ice has been replaced by miles of open water for the first time on record, surprising scientists and ice monitors. A Northwestern University expert describes what these images reveal about climate change.

Yarrow Axford, an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, investigates Earth’s climate history, focusing closely on Greenland and the Arctic. She can be reached at 847-467-2268 and Follow her on Twitter @yarrowaxford.

Quote from Professor Axford

“We’re going to keep seeing record-breaking things happen in the Arctic because it’s warming faster than any other part of our planet. Sea ice responds more quickly to that warming than anything else we can observe on a large scale, so sea ice is like a canary-in-the-coal-mine telling us that climate is shifting quickly. Seeing open water in a place like north Greenland -- which we expect to be one of the last hold-outs of year-round ice -- is pretty alarming. But it’s also important to note that, so far, this is an observation in a single year, and we need the longer-term, multi-year picture to know how significant open-water events like this one really are.”

More news at Northwestern Now
Find experts on our Faculty Experts Hub
Follow @NUSources for expert perspectives