Study confirms Arctic sea ice set to plunge to lowest measure on record
Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent confirming fears that the effects of man-made climate change are having a major impact on the polar region.
With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, scientists are expected to confirm the record — currently set in 2007 — within days.
Daily records at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre say Arctic sea ice extent during the first two weeks of August continued to track below 2007 record low daily ice extents.
As of August 13, ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record, with about five weeks still remaining in the melt season.
Sea ice extent dropped rapidly between August 4 and August 8. While this drop coincided with an intense storm over the central Arctic Ocean, it is unclear if the storm prompted the rapid ice loss. Overall, weather patterns in the Arctic Ocean through the summer of 2012 have been a mixed bag, with no consistent pattern.
Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 was 5.09 million square kilometers (1.97 million square miles). This is 2.69 million square kilometers (1.04 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the date, and is 483,000 square kilometers (186,000 square miles) below the previous record low for the date, which occurred in 2007.
The average pace of ice loss since late June has been rapid at just over 100,000 square kilometers (38,000 square miles) per day.
However, this pace nearly doubled for a few days in early August during a major Arctic cyclonic storm, discussed below. Unlike the summer of 2007 when a persistent pattern of high pressure was present over the central Arctic Ocean and a pattern of low pressure was over the northern Eurasian coast, the summer of 2012 has been characterized by variable conditions.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Click Green
Arctic Melting image via Shutterstock