SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: March 28, 2018

SNIP: As the planet warms, giant icebergs and sea ice that once would have remained trapped in the frozen Arctic are moving southward faster and more frequently, menacing shipping and oil and gas drilling operations.

In the North Atlantic, scientists say the number of icebergs spotted south of 48 degrees latitude—where they start to get into more shipping lanes—is up again this year, following a series of extreme iceberg seasons.

That ice can pose serious risks to ships and offshore oil and gas rigs. Last year, strong storms sent a swarm of icebergs surging into the oil and gas drilling field at the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, marking the fourth extreme iceberg season in a row, according to International Ice Patrol Commander Gabrielle McGrath.

There were so many in the area that we couldn’t count them all. Our models couldn’t keep up with how quickly they were moving to the south,” she said.

Increased ice mobility is a sign that the Arctic climate system is likely to change in big increments in the next few decades, said University of Manitoba ice researcher Dave Babb, one of scientists who tested the sea ice off Newfoundland last year.

The Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of Alaska is remaining unfrozen for more than two months longer than just 30 years ago, and there’s evidence that storms are getting stronger over the open water, and whipping up bigger waves.

The extreme conditions would make cleaning up an oil spill nearly impossible.