Arctic Ice Melting…

September 22nd, 2009 BY jennl | No Comments
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Here’s a rather interesting article on the arctic ice melting to the 3rd smallest area on record today found on Reuters website…

Los Angeles (Reuters) – The Arctic’s sea ice pack thawed to its third-lowest summer level on record, up slightly from the seasonal melt of the past two years but continuing an overall decline symptomatic of climate change, U.S. scientists said on Thursday.

The range of ocean remaining frozen over the northern polar region reached its minimum extent for 2009 on September 12, when it covered 1.97 million square miles (5.1 million square km), and now appears to be growing again as the Arctic starts its annual cool-down, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

That level falls 20 percent below the 30-year average minimum ice cover for the Arctic summer since satellites began measuring it in 1979, and 24 percent less than the 1979-2000 average, the Colorado-based government agency said.

This summer’s minimum represents a loss about about two-thirds of the sea ice measured at the height of Arctic winter in March. By comparison, the Arctic ice shelf typically shrank by a little more than half each summer during the 1980s and 1990s, ice scientist Walt Meier said.

The lowest point on record was reached in September 2007, and the 2009 minimum ranks as the third smallest behind last year’s level. But scientists said they do not consider the slight upward fluctuation again this summer to be a recovery.

The difference was attributed to relatively cooler temperatures this summer compared with the two previous years. Winds also tended to disperse the ice pack over a larger region, scientists said.
“The long-term decline in summer extent is expected to continue in future years,” the report said.

The U.S. government findings were in line with measurements reported separately by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, which reported this summer’s minimum ice extent at just under 5 million square km (1.93 million square miles).

Scientists regard the Arctic and its sea ice as among the most sensitive barometers of global warming because even small temperature changes make a huge difference.

“If you go from a degree below freezing to 2 degrees above freezing, that’s a completely different environment in the polar region,” Meier said. “You’re going from ice skating to swimming. Whereas if you’re on a tropical beach and it’s 3 degrees warmer, you probably wouldn’t even notice it.”

Article continues here.