The extent of the polar ice caps is shrinking. This simple fact has been common knowledge since the late 1970s thanks to the added awareness of aerial and satellite imagery. Since then, researchers have collected continuous, daily measurements of the ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic. Although this information is useful, more important is the ice’s thickness, which allows scientists to calculate its total volume.
Measuring changes in ice thickness across the Arctic for long periods of time will allow researchers to more accurately predict when it will become seasonal, according to Bruno Tremblay, an associate professor with the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University.
“Monitoring the changes in the thickness of the thick, multiyear ice just north of Canada and within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is also crucial to predict whether and when there will be remnant ice in those two regions when the rest of the Arctic will be virtually seasonally ice free,” explains Tremblay. “A good knowledge of the spatial and temporal variability of ice thickness is also important to see whether our global climate models are correctly simulating the sea ice cover.”