Gruelling Arctic mission to study impacts of global warming ends

May 14th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 14 (ANI): The Catlin Arctic Survey, a gruelling 10-week expedition to measure the thickness of sea-ice that will help study the impacts of global warming in the region, has ended.

According to a report by BBC News, two planes landed safely on May 13 on the floating Arctic ice to collect researchers Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley.

Their data will help study the impacts of global warming in the region.

It also reinforces a new forecast, by a leading UK scientist, who says that the Arctic sea-ice could vanish in summertime far sooner than predicted.

The Catlin survey ended slightly ahead of schedule to ensure a safe pick up.

Speaking on a live link from the Arctic landing strip, Hadow said that it had been a difficult but successful expedition.

“In our time here, we have captured around 16,000 observations and (taken) 1,500 measurements of the thickness of the ice and snow as well as its density,” he said.

He added that his team was now handing its valuable data, collected primarily through drilling following the failure of a mobile radar unit, over to the scientists.

“The data seems to suggest it was almost all first-year ice,” Hadow said. He revealed that over the length of the survey, the average thickness of the sea ice was 1.774m.

The Arctic ice could soon be a seasonal feature.

“Our science advisors had told us to expect thicker, older ice on at least part of the route, so it is something of a mystery where that older ice has gone. It’ll be interesting to see what scientists think about this,” Said Hadow.

The Catlin Arctic Survey has directly measured thickness of the ice

An ice service analyst, Dr Trudi Wohlleben, said that the ice was likely to retreat as much as it had in the past two years.

Typically, about 40 percent of the Arctic Ocean is covered with older, thicker ice, but that has been greatly reduced.

Referring to the direct measurements taken by the Catlin team, Dr Wohlleben said, “It is very nice to have ‘ground-truthing’ of what you’re interpreting from the satellite data.”

“So, when we look at the imagery, we’re expecting the first year ice to be between 1m and 2m thick and it’s nice to have those numbers confirmed,” Dr Wohlleben added. (ANI)

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