Global warming making ice so thick in the Baltic that the icebreaker fleet may have to be upgraded

Yes, it is apparently true, global warming is making the ice thicker in the Baltic.

So thick that the icebreaker fleet needs an upgrade:

Oddly enough, global warming and milder winters have led to more severe ice conditions in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. Today, icebreakers are already struggling to get through towering compacted ice and the problem may become exacerbated in the future, unless more powerful icebreaking vessels step in.  

As surprising as it may sound, milder winters don’t make life easier for icebreakers. On the contrary, thaws alternating with bouts of frost are a nightmare for icebreaker fleets, Finnish experts found. During winters with a regular cold, solid ice grows to become 50-60 centimeters thick and is easy to get through. Although milder winter temperatures at first glance make ice thinner, it also leads to the formation of an ice crust, which, with the aid of harsh winds, grows to several meters of pack ice.

According to ice researcher Patrik Eriksson of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Baltic ice may become 5-6 meters thick, and this phenomenon has become particularly common over the past decades of milder winters. Eriksson noted that short cold spells combined with western winds lead to ice floes clogging to pack ice, which is a bigger problem for Finland due to the wind pattern.

Global warming does have a benefit after all. It is keeping icebreaker ship yards in business.

 


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