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Kara Sea ice edge in summer shifts 850 km northbound over 35 years, scientists report

The air temperature in the Arctic has been rising a few times quicker than elsewhere on the planet

MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. The southern edge of the Arctic ‘ice layer’ at the Kara Sea area in summer has shifted by 850 kilometers to the north over recent 35 years, thus the upper water layers get warmer and their energy exchange with the atmosphere becomes more active, Academician Mikhail Flint of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology told TASS.

"In the summer season, the ice’s southern edge has been moving significantly towards the north," he said. "For example, in the Kara Sea, it is now about 850 km to the north from the edge registered in the 1980s."

"This distance is bigger than the distance between Moscow and St. Petersburg," he continued. "A new sea space opens in summer."

These changes favor higher temperatures in the sea’s upper layers and more intensive exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere, including the energy exchange between the atmosphere and the water, he said.

"As for climate related aspects, huge ice areas have become one-year areas, which determines absolutely different processes between the atmosphere, ice and ocean, different processes in the ice layer," the scientist said. "It is more complicated to analyze how this phenomenon affects the biology productivity in the sea areas, where the ice retreats - this analysis requires ongoing observations over a long period of time."

The air temperature in the Arctic has been rising a few times quicker than elsewhere on the planet. This is the so-called polar amplification effect, which still lacks an adequate explanation. Scientists forecast, the Barents Sea by the middle of the current century will become the first year-round ice-free Arctic basin.