Reduced ice thickness in Arctic Transpolar Drift favors rapid ice retreat



[1] Helicopter-borne electromagnetic sea ice thickness measurements were performed over the Transpolar Drift in late summers of 2001, 2004, and 2007, continuing ground-based measurements since 1991. These show an ongoing reduction of modal and mean ice thicknesses in the region of the North Pole of up to 53 and 44%, respectively, since 2001. A buoy derived ice age model showed that the thinning was mainly due to a regime shift from predominantly multi- and second-year ice in earlier years to first-year ice in 2007, which had modal and mean summer thicknesses of 0.9 and 1.27 m. Measurements of second-year ice which still persisted at the North Pole in April 2007 indicate a reduction of late-summer second-year modal and mean ice thicknesses since 2001 of 20 and 25% to 1.65 and 1.81 m, respectively. The regime shift to younger and thinner ice could soon result in an ice free North Pole during summer.