Sea Ice Melting to New Lows in Arctic Ocean
August 21, 2012 6:49 PM
Sea ice extent in the Arctic fell to 483,000 square km (186,000 square miles) on August 13, a new record
The Arctic Ocean is feeling
hot, hot, hot
, says new report released by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
According to the report, sea ice extent in the Arctic dropped to a record low on August 13, and will continue dropping to new record lows by the end of the month.
Sea ice extent, which measures the amount of sea ice remaining in the ocean, fell to 483,000 square km (186,000 square miles) on August 13. This was a dip from the previous record low on the same date back in 2007.
But that's not the end of it. The Arctic sea ice is expected to continue melting through mid to late September, but more record lows have been predicted for the end of this month.
"A new daily record would be likely by the end of August," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. "Chances are it will cross the previous record while we are still in ice retreat."
The news of a new record hasn't surprised many among the environmental community. This may be because the Arctic neared record lows last year, according to climate physics Professor Seymour Laxon from University College London. It almost seemed inevitable that this would happen at some point. "Rapid" melting occurred in June of this year as well with 100,000 square km melting daily.
However, Laxon worries that this rate of melting will adjust the prediction for an ice-free Arctic in summer. Previous reports estimated that the Arctic will have an
ice-free summer in 2100
based on melting at that time, but when the 2007 low hit, this estimate was brought to the 2030-2040 range. Scientists are now concerned that this year's lows will bring that date even closer, which is problematic because the melting of sea ice means warming of the oceans. Sea ice keeps the Earth's temperature controlled.
Global warming always seems to be a hot topic (pun intended). A recent controversial report released by James Hansen at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies claimed that
global warming has caused hotter summers
since 1980, but many question the merit of his opinions based on his position on climate change.
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