The Russian Navy has discovered five new islands in the Arctic, revealed by melting glaciers. Scientists warn these aren't flukes.
Russian Navy researchers have been using satellite data for years to study coastline changes, according to the Defense Ministry. Between 2015 and 2018, they confirmed more than 30 new islands, capes and bays along the two archipelagos of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land.
The new islands are located near the Vylki glacier off the coast of the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which lies in the Arctic Ocean northwest of the Russian mainland. They range in area from 900 to 54,500 square meters (about 9,690 to 586,630 square feet)–as big as 10 football fields.
"Previously these were glaciers, but the melting of ice led to the islands emerging," said the expedition leader, Aleksandr Moiseyev. Since the islands have been charted, the findings will now be officially recorded and the islands will be named. This discovery follows a similar one made in January, when glaciers in the Canadian Arctic melted enough to reveal land that had been hidden for at least 40,000 years.
Scientists warn that emerging islands aren't an accident, but rather the direct result of the growing climate crisis as the Arctic undergoes a mass melting of glaciers and sea ice. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the global average, and the resulting glacial melt could potentially destroy the cycle of life that starts there–and have serious repercussions on the lives of people all over the planet.
This summer, Greenland's ice sheet lost 11 billion tons of ice on just one August day, after months of record temperatures. The previous month, the total amount of ice lost was 197 billion tons–the equivalent of about 80 million Olympic swimming pools. In August, Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier was lost to climate change.
According to CNN, if glaciers continue to melt at this rate, rising sea levels could displace up to a fifth of the world's population by 2100. Entire island nations like the Maldives could also disappear underwater, millions of people could face food and drinking water scarcity, and pollution and diseases could give rise to health crises.