Ice rafts traveling farther and faster across the Arctic Ocean | Science News

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Ice rafts traveling farther and faster across the Arctic Ocean

Contamination risks rise as ice-trapped pollutants go along for the ride

By
6:09pm, December 17, 2015
oil rig

MIGRATING ICE  Climate change may cause sea ice in the Arctic to travel longer distances at faster speeds. That ice can carry oil spilled from Arctic oil platforms across the ocean and quickly cause widespread ecological damage, new research shows.

SAN FRANCISCO — Climate change could turn the Arctic Ocean into an ice autobahn. Sea ice, much of it chunks of floating ice, is becoming younger and thinner as old ice melts. That new ice travels farther and faster than older ice, carrying dirt, organisms and pollution along for the ride, new research shows.

Tracking the movements of Arctic ice over several years, researchers noticed that ever larger areas of ice now make the trek from one side of the ocean to the other. That movement means that the far-flung reaches of the Arctic are becoming more connected, Robert Newton said December 16 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. That’s a problem, as migrating ice will boost the risk of widespread environmental disaster from events such as oil spills, said Newton, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

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