Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

Rate of summer ice melt smashes two previous record lows and prompts warnings of accelerated climate change. Arctic sea ice cover likely melted to its minimum extent for the year on September 16, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Satellite images show that the rapid summer melt has reduced the area of frozen sea to 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles), now the lowest summer minimum extent in the satellite record – less than half the area typically occupied four decades ago.

A record low in 2007 of 4.17m sq km was broken on 27 August 2012; further melting has since amounted to more than 500,000 sq km.

Sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) on August 26, breaking the lowest extent on record set on September 18, 2007 of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles). On September 4, it fell below 4.00 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles), another first in the 33-year satellite record.

Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer months within 20 years, leading to possibly major climate impacts. Recent climate models suggest that ice-free conditions may happen before 2050, though the observed rate of decline remains faster than many of the models are able to capture. Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking since the 1970s when it averaged around 8m sq km a year, but such a dramatic collapse in ice cover in one year is highly unusual.


Sea ice experts said they were surprised by the collapse because weather conditions were not especially conducive to a major melt this year. The ice is now believed to be much thinner than it used to be and easier to melt.

Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle of melting through the warm summer months and refreezing in the winter. The sea ice plays a critical role in regulating climate, acting as a giant mirror that reflects much of the Sun's energy, helping to cool the Earth.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, explains that the disappearance of Arctic ice is the most visible warning sign of the need to tackle climate change and ensure we have a world fit to pass on to the next generation. The sheer scale of ice loss is shocking and unprecedented. This alarm call from the Arctic needs to reverberate across Whitehall and boardrooms.

Canadian scientists said this week that the record melt this year could lead to a cold winter in the UK and Europe, as the heat in the Arctic water will be released into the atmosphere this autumn, potentially affecting the all-important jet stream. While the science is still developing in this area, the Met Office said in May that the reduction in Arctic sea ice was contributing in part to the colder, drier winters the UK has been experiencing in recent years.

The animation below, released by the NOAA on September 17, shows the 2012 time-series of ice extent using data from the DMSP SSMI/S satellite sensor:

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Druach 7 years ago

How long are the records showing this? 100 years, 1000 years? NO, they are 33 years old, they wouldn't even show up on a climate scale. The ice has melted due to severe storms and changing currents which are natural events. This Ice melt is not umprecedented, the Washington Post has an interesting article dated the 4th November 1922 asking where the ice has gone. If you put it into perspective this has happened before and will happen again. However, the Global Warming Deceivers will use anything to pass their agenda onto the gullible.

Gordian Knot (@Druach) 7 years ago

I believe it is several anomalies taken place to create "global warming" affecting our polar caps, man being at the bottom of that list. To assess one anomaly leaves little room for other theories. I do agree that the caps are melting at alarming rates, but why? Personally, the article fails to cover what is truly happening to our planet for it only provides a piece of the puzzle. Magnetism as we enter the galactic bar of our galaxy causes our planet to work overtime and over compensate for the jet stream, bizarre weather patterns, plate tectonics, volcanism, electrical impulses and a host of other anomalies taking place with planet Earth. Let's address magnetic fields and the role it plays in our lives and the healthiness of our planet by starting with an experiment that requires a magnet and a handheld compass. Now, we have all experimented with magnets as children and discovered two magnets of the same polarity +/+ harmoniously work together, take the same two magnets and flip one (+/-) and they repel one another . . . push/pull if you will. This example represents our Earth, Sun and galactic bar in our galaxy. Now, gather your compass (represents Earth or core) and the magnet (galactic bar) and make sure your compass is not near a computer or electronics that will throw the compass off. Bring the magnet close to the compass and turn the magnet at about 20˚ and watch the compass break at the 40˚- 45˚ mark every time. What does this mean? Essentially you have created a mini magnetic reversal with this experiment. Now, let's look at the big picture of a magnetic reversal on Earth, Sun and the Galactic Bar. Our Sun is being degaussed or loosing its magnetic field to (as it passes by) a bigger magnetic source, that being, the galactic bar in our galaxy, think about the experiment you performed with the compass and magnet, same concept. As the Sun degausses or its wandering poles, so do the poles on planet Earth and as it stands the magnetic poles are wandering towards Siberia at an alarming rate each month/year. This is one of the many reasons why we are being troubled with bizarre weather patterns, melting polar caps, extreme EQs, volcanism, magnetic field(s) disruptions affecting marine/mammal animals et al. Now, let's look at 40˚- 45˚ experiment on the compass and compare it to the wandering poles on our planet (think Siberia and magnetic pole reversal) and where we are heading in the future. Magnetic pole reversals have happened on planet Earth and when they have, they've been devastating and happen rapidly (think about the experiment with the compass and magnet you performed) causing crustal displacement, extreme weather changes, ocean displacement. We are currently in a magnetic reversal and to what degree˚ I don't know, we just need to remove the blinds and see the bigger picture.

dave 7 years ago

Terrifying... what about the Antartic?

Jon D. (@dave) 7 years ago

Er, well... it seems to have more seasonal ice cover than ever before in the last 4 decades?

brendasue 7 years ago

Thank You

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