The Importance of Sea Ice (Chris Polashenski)

Video Shot in: 2023

Chris Polashenski, a researcher specializing in the structure of sea ice, was found a couple of miles out on the sea ice, deeply engaged in his work. He studies how the physical characteristics of sea ice influence its melting patterns. Polashenski explains the significance of sea ice in the Earth’s climate system, highlighting its role as a reflective surface. The ice, being predominantly white, reflects most of the sunlight hitting it back into space, helping to keep the planet cooler. He contrasts this with the dark open water, which absorbs sunlight and heats up. This absorption of heat by the ocean exacerbates the melting of the remaining sea ice, leading to more exposure of the ocean surface. This feedback loop accelerates climate change by reducing the amount of energy reflected back into space. Polashenski’s research underscores the critical role of sea ice in regulating the Earth’s temperature and the profound implications of its melting due to climate change.