Scientists predict ‘frightening milestone’ lies ahead with the Arctic sea yet to freeze

Read Time:   |  27th October 2020

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The Arctic sea is still yet to freeze this year, with a stretch of sea ice 'ten times the size of Germany' missing - the first time since records began.


By late October, the main nursery of the Arctic sea ice in Siberia would normally have begun freezing over. However, this October the sea has not yet started to freeze, and climate scientists are sounding the alarm.

According to scientists, the delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea, which is known as the birthplace of ice, has been caused by the protracted warmth in the northern part of Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters.

Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record breaking heatwave in Siberia this summer, and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice.

‘Ten times the size of Germany is missing’

Climate scientist Lars Kaleschke from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany said: “This year, after a warm summer, we see that the [amount of] ice is the second-lowest on record.

“We see a delayed freeze-up of this area and we currently have 4 million square kilometres less sea ice than usually expected compared to the 1980s. That’s ten times the size of Germany that is missing.”

An ‘ice-free’ summer

Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University wrote in an email to newspaper The Guardian: “2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century.”

Moreover, Dr Stefan Hendricks, a sea ice physics specialist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, said: “It is more frustrating than shocking. This has been forecast for a long time, but there has been little substantial response by decision-makers.”

‘Breaking the wrong records’

The Green Party in the UK, sharing the report, stated: “The Arctic sea ice’s annual freeze has yet to begin – making it the latest ever.

“This follows the Siberian heatwave, with temperatures as high as 38C. There’s more open sea in the Arctic than ever.

“We’re breaking the wrong records.”


This downward trend in sea ice in the Arctic will inevitably continue unless we take action against climate change. We need to urge our leaders to take action NOW, not in years to come.

You can contact your local MP about this issue by clicking here to find their details.

Worried about the environment? Read our guide on how to deal with eco-anxiety. 

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