I thoroughly enjoyed the article on icebreaker ships in your March 2016 issue. It gave me an all-new respect for ship construction and the possible hardships faced by sailors in the Arctic regions.
I do wonder though if anyone has ever considered the possibility that the ice-breaking activities ( particularly in the North Pole) have any effect on the global warming phenomenon? It’s no big secret that humankind is largely responsible for much of the ecological damage done to our planet, and there is no question we are trying to repair said damage.
I still wonder if nature intended the ice shelves that have been measured at a thickness of 15 feet to serve a natural purpose and ask if we have disturbed a natural process of our planet’s overall ecological balance by breaking these ice sheets.
I would be interested to see what information you could find out in that respect. Keep up the good work with your magazine, I always look forward to seeing what the next issue will bring!
Rob Thomas, Waterdown, ON, Canada
Thanks for dropping us a line about the icebreaker article, we’re glad to hear you enjoyed it and that it gave you food for thought. In our essentially interconnected world, the impact of this human activity with regard to global warming is indeed something to be considered now more than ever.
The sea ice of the Arctic reflects the majority of the sun’s rays, which helps to cool down the top half of the planet. However open water reflects less than ice, so it absorbs more of the sun’s heat. For instance, when Arctic sea ice melts in the summer, more areas of open water absorb more solar energy and result in warmer water and more ice melt. So the open water an icebreaker leaves in its wake does absorb more heat from the sun than the ice around it, which does have an impact at the local level. But in the grand scheme of things, icebreakers’ impact on ice loss is minimal: At any given time there are one to three icebreakers in the Arctic, and the amount of open water they produce as they travel affects a small fraction of the total ice cover.