Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hits Record Low
September 11, 2011

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hits Record Low


The area covered by Arctic sea ice during the summer reached a new all-time low on Thursday, with the summer sea ice extent falling to 1.64 million square miles (4.24 million square kilometers), scientists from a German university reported on Friday.

According to AFP reports on Saturday, the current level is approximately one-half a percent below the previous record low, which dates back to the first satellite observations in 1972. Researchers at the University of Bremen's Institute of Environmental Physics, where the study was conducted, confirmed that the previous one-day minimum was 1.65 million miles (4.27 million square kilometers), recorded on September 17, 2007.

"The research team reported that the summer sea ice has retreated by 50 percent since 1972, and warned that further sea-ice declines this month are likely since the melt season has not yet ended," added the Center for Biological Diversity in a September 9 press release.

"This stunning loss of Arctic sea ice is yet another wake-up call that climate change is here now and is having devastating effects around the world," added Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center's Climate Law Institute, in a statement. "Every moment that Washington delays in taking strong action on climate change further jeopardizes our future."

According to the Center's press release, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) had not yet verified that the summer ice extent had reached record lows, though they did warn back in August that it was approaching the same levels as 2007. Furthermore, on Thursday, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that this summer was the second-hottest recorded since 1895.

The problem, according to a Friday article by Dirk Notz of RealClimate, a member of the Guardian Environment Network, was not isolated to one month, however. Notz reported that the Arctic sea ice levels of July were the lowest recorded for that month, and added that August's extent was second lowest all time, just behind those 2007 levels.

"The finding that the long-term evolution of Arctic sea ice is primarily governed by the prevailing climate conditions implies that the loss of Arctic sea ice can still be slowed down and eventually stopped if an efficient reduction of CO2 emissions were to become reality soon," he added.


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