A scientist with the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center tells CBC News that an Arctic Ocean cyclone north of the Beaufort Sea last week was stronger than any in memory and might speed melting of sea ice. This summer is already on track to see record minimum ice extent in the Arctic, says the NSIDC.
"[A cyclone] causes a lot of break-up of the ice floes. These can drift into warmer waters where the ice can then melt very quickly, and it looks like we're seeing some of that now, or we have, over the past week with the storm. So the point is, in terms of the sea-ice cover, it does have a big effect because with the strong winds and a big storm like that, it really chews things up," said [Mark] Serreze.
Meanwhile, north of Barrow, marine mammal scientists discovered an ice floe covered in granite rocks and even boulders, far from any glacier that could account for the thing. They told The Arctic Sounder that the berg could have broken off a Greeland ice sheet and got mixed in with Arctic pack ice, which tends to spin clockwise on the Arctic Ocean and might have carred the berg to Barrow.
While it is unusual to see an ice floe with boulders on it from far-away terrain, it's not unheard of. While neither Glenn nor George has ever seen anything like this before in all their years of traveling and studying the Arctic, Inupiat elders they have talked to have said such floes sometimes float through - usually farther from shore.
In addition, there are areas in the Arctic landscape and nearshore waters where similar boulders can be found, boulders that show evidence of glaciation despite the fact that no such glaciation occurred in the Barrow area. It's possible those boulders came to rest on shore after hitching a ride on a chunk of ice, too.
Read more at The Arctic Sounder: Mysterious rock-covered iceberg found near Barrow