Arctic sea ice reaches record low
Global warming is contributing to sea ice decline
Also In The News
Penguin, November 1st, Hardback £10.
Tuesday, 02, Oct 2007 05:48
Arctic sea ice reached record low levels this year, according to satellite measurements.
Researchers at the University of Colorado claim that the melt season saw levels lower than any since 1979 when records began.
During September the average sea ice extent was 1.65 million square miles, nearly 25 per cent less than the previous low record reached in 2005.
At the end of the melt season, sea ice was 39 per cent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000.
Professor Mark Serreze said that a number of factors have contributed to the decline of sea ice but "the effects of greenhouse warming are coming through loud and clear".
Scientists believe that part of the reason for the drastic decline was due to ice being at an already-weakened state before the melt season.
Other contributing factors include an unusual atmospheric pattern, with persistent high atmospheric pressures over the central Arctic Ocean and lower pressures over Siberia.
At the same time winds pumped warm air into the region, encouraging further melt.
The loss of sea ice was so great this year that the fabled Northwest Passage completely opened for the first time in human memory.
Melting sea ice is likely to have an impact on hunting and travelling in the region.
"We may well see an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer within our lifetimes," said Professor Serreze. "The implications for global climate, as well as Arctic animals and people, are disturbing."