Expert: Melting ice sheets at the poles leaving bigger storm surges from hurricanes

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Scientists at NASA are issuing warnings about what the loss of sea ice in the polar ice caps means to the rest of us.

Tom Neumann works on the ICE-SAT 2, a satellite which uses lasers to measure glaciers and ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice. Sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is melting, Neumann said, and this year could set a record for the thinning ice. 

He said white ice reflects the sun back into space, but thinner ice melts and then the sun warms the waters.

"Those changes can bring much warmer weather, wetter weather but also colder weather," he explained. "Some of the Arctic vortexes break-outs that we've had the last few years are due to these big meanders in the jet stream that are due in part to changes in the Arctic."

In addition, he said sea levels are going up globally, and that results in greater storm surges during hurricanes. 

"One of the changes that is readily apparent is that as we lose ice from places from Greenland or Antarctica, sea level goes up globally, and the storm surge from these hurricanes becomes worse, and that's a direct impact of changing conditions in the Arctic."

Without really cold winters and a hard freeze, some species, like ticks and mosquitoes, can flourish because they never really die off, he added.