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Alert! Arctic Sea Ice Cover at the Second Lowest Ever Recorded, Data Shows

Sep 17, 2016 09:54 AM EDT
Arctic sea ice
Satellite images show that the Arctic sea ice is at its second lowest minimum on record, tying with a 2007 recorded data.
(Photo : NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr via Creative Commons)

Satellite images show that the Arctic sea ice is at its second lowest ever recorded, tied with 2007 data.

Data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, revealed that it was measured at 4.169 million square kilometers on September 12, only a slight increase from 4.139m sq. km. the day before.

The Guardian reported that these figures are now the "new normal," adding that the long-term downward trend will be toward ice-free Arctic summers.

"We are not going back to how it was," said NSIDC senior scientist Julienne Stroeve, adding that the trend shows no signs of stopping.

"Climate systems are inherently chaotic," she said. "You could have some temporary recovery of the ice but we are not going back."

The lowest extent of Arctic sea ice ever recorded was in 2012, at 3.41m sq. km. The thickness of the ice has been reduced by 40 percent in the last 35 years.

The data center also recorded this March the lowest winter maximum since records started in 1979, at an average extent of 14.52m sq. km.

Arctic ce melt: climate change indicator

In its monthly bulletin, NSIDC reported that two major storms in August may have sped up the ice melt by spreading out the broken ice.

Climate Central calls the Arctic sea ice as the "granddaddy" of climate change indicators. The reducing sea ice is seen to allow the Arctic Ocean to warm up and trigger methane release, which can further heat up our planet.

Across the Arctic, sea ice has declined continuously and is predicted to keep shrinking in the coming decades. This could lead to changes not only in the region's geography, but also to its ecology and economy.

Greenland, for instance, experienced a "heatwave" in early April, with temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, as per the same The Guardian report. Average temperatures in July were 2 to 4 Celsius higher than usual in several areas.

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