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Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020/2021 freezing season
« on: October 22, 2020, 05:32:43 PM »
Animation of the extent and distribution of ice for October 21st.
(Click to play)

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020/2021 freezing season
« on: October 22, 2020, 05:24:34 PM »
Once the water is back to to freezing, the ice will form at the same sort of rates, but it'll be a few days later than in the past...
I'd say it will be a faster refreeze as the surrounding air and the continents will be much colder by then than during previous refreezes. Late but fast refreeze. We shall see
      The Guardian article mentions a possible ecological impact on nutrient transfer from the delayed Laptev Sea refreeze.  It seems likely that once refreeze begins it will be more rapid than "normal" because it will be occurring at a later date.  That makes me wonder if the rate of Arctic Ocean refreeze has important but little-discussed impacts.  If the ice pack edge advances many more miles per day than normal, how does that affect the microscopic and macroscopic organism communities that interact with the water/ice environment?

       Ice vs. water is a major habitat change, and the rate at which that habitat shift occurs could have consequences.  While I doubt that ice-edge advance is going to be so fast as to outrun the ability of air-breathing marine mammals that need access to open water to relocate, that's an extreme (though I think implausible) example of the kind of scenario that comes to mind.  What seems more likely is some effect on the colonization, population growth rate, and niche partitioning of microflora/fauna on newly formed ice.  For example, it may make a difference to community structure if there only 3 versus 30 days between initial colonization and the date when discriminating environmental conditions occur. 

       The relative timing of such events may have trivial consequences, or it may not.  Small differences over such a large scale can have a large impact, especially in a tightly linked system where each domino affects all the following dominoes.  Even though Extent / Area / Thickness / Volume will probably return to closer to the normal range quickly once refreezing begins, even getting back to a closer match with "normal" values after a late refreeze start and rapid rebound may bring with it subtle but significant qualitative physical, chemical, biological and/or behavioral differences that are not apparent from the quantitative Ex / Ar / Th / Vol measurements. 

       The fact that the Russians could not really test their new ice breaker on a run to the North Pole because the ice was too thin and broken is not an Earth-shaking consequence, but it exemplifies how changes ripple through a system in unforeseen ways.  Everything is connected.  I do not expect obvious or catastrophic impacts, but the potential effects of refreeze timing and rate do seem worth noting.  I wonder if/how Arctic scientists are tracking such potential qualitative impacts.

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