Melting Arctic sea ice forces sled dogs to slosh through water

Melting Arctic sea ice forces sled dogs to slosh through water

A dog-sled team on a mission to retrieve specialized instruments on the sea ice near Qaannaaq, Greenland, ran into standing water after the onset of warm conditions across the northern territory caused rapid ice melt.

The project run by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), in close collaboration with local hunters, sets up instruments to monitor sea ice and ocean conditions in a ford called Inglefield Bredning in northwest Greenland, near northern end of Baffin Bay, across from Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. The team collects the instruments in early summer before the sea ice breaks up.

This year's expedition, however, was faced with a lot of standing water on the ice.

Last week saw the onset of warm conditions in Greenland and much of the rest of the Arctic, driven by warmer air moving up from the south. Approximately two billion tonnes of ice was lost in a day on June 13 when the photograph was taken, Steffen Olsen of the DMI told Reuters. The ice by Qaannaaq village and the Inglefield Bredning forms every winter and is thick, which means there are relatively few fractures for meltwater to drain through, Olsen said.

On Monday, as the heat wave continued, the Danish Polar Portal reported more than three cubic kilometres of ice melted — the most lost in one day so far this year — and on Tuesday, maximum temperatures in that part of Greenland were remained above 17 C. The portal is where Danish research institutions share their Arctic monitoring data.

On average, the Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world with climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.