Rising Temperatures Double Glacier Loss in the Russian High Arctic

The Cryosphere, 6 January 2022

Glaciers in the Russian High Arctic lost twice as much ice between 2010 and 2017 as in the previous decade. Until recently, these glaciers appeared more protected and intact than most faster-melting glaciers in high latitude regions, such as subarctic Alaska. This accelerating ice loss in Russia is most notable in large ocean-terminating glaciers due to higher surface melt near their edges. Over the past decade, nearly half of this ice loss came from glaciers in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, between the Barents and Kara Sea. This region has experienced intense atmospheric and oceanic warming, with high temperature peaks reaching 7°C during January 2016 relative to their thirty-year average, probably due to rapid sea ice loss. The expansion of Atlantic climate conditions into the Russian High Arctic – otherwise known as “Atlantification” – affects ocean stratification, sea ice processes, and glacier dynamics. These findings illustrate the clear link between rising temperatures and increased ice loss in this region.