A fault of approximately 3 km² was identified by researchers in what is convenient to call the “final ice”, a location in northern Canada, already in the oldest region of the Arctic, known as “Ellesmere Island”. The discovery, called "polynia", is yet another statement to the effects of global warming in the polar masses of Land.

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According to the study, in May 2020, the hole opened in the open sea region of the “Final Ice”, which is about one million km² and covers the area between Ellesmere Island and northern Greenland. The study, which also analyzed the possible impacts, was published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The survey was conducted after geological inconsistencies were found in the area: the pollinia theoretically should not form there, considering that the ice is up to five meters thick in some regions.

Image shows the formation of a pollinia, a geological fault in the Arctic of about 3 km²
Polynia growth in arctic region, dated from May 2020 to today, according to a study conducted by a Canadian university (Image: Nasa EOSDIS Worldview/Reproduction)

“No one has ever seen a pollina in that area before. The north of Ellesmere Island is difficult to move or to melt, simply because the ice it's very thick there, and in large quantities too,” said Kent Moore, arctic researcher at the University of Toronto-Mississauga and primary author of the research.

According to the study, the pollinia formed during the passage of an “anticyclone”, a name given to extreme high pressure winds that rotate in a clockwise direction. Moore and his team analyzed decades of satellite imagery and atmospheric data and found that, without anyone noticing, pollinia formed at least twice before in the region – in 1988 and 2004, respectively.

Basically, the powerful winds pushed the ice in all directions – something common, according to maritime researcher David Baubb of the University of Manitoba, not involved in the study. The strangeness, however, is the fact that the ice is too thick and dense to be simply moved by external stimuli, even more so considering that the region is far from the coasts - ocean winds tend to be weaker in the absence of beaches.

This is an important detail: the so-called “final ice region” has always been seen as a stronghold against the advance of global warming, resisting its effects while similar areas faced problems. like polar melt accelerated or increased occurrence of catastrophes such as hurricanes e rashes. The new study, however, reveals that the area where the 3 km² fault lies in the Arctic is not that resilient.

“The problem is that the ice gets thinner and thinner, so it becomes easier for the wind to move it around. As this happens, it becomes easier for pollinia to form with less and less force, so there is evidence that these formations are becoming more common or larger than in the past,” said Moore, who also pointed out that warmer temperatures mean that they do not. renovation of melted ice.

The two scientists pointed out that pollinia are not necessarily bad for the environment, but there are risks in this specific case: “when the frozen sea is nearby, life in the area is more or less like that of a desert, but when an area of open sea appears, anything can happen,” Baubb said. "Sea birds come to feed, as do seals and polar bears – this, in turn, expands the settlement of native populations, who expand their hunting and feeding with it."

Moore, however, explains that these benefits are in the short term, and the result in longer terms is negative: “There is a transition period where, when we start to lose ice, there is a gain in the food chain because it is more productive. But as the ice melts and is moved in pieces away from the coast, causing species like sea lions and some birds to lose access to it, we lose that benefit. Eventually, [the area] gets so hot that these species don't survive.”

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