Arctic sea ice hits new low; melting at its fastest pace in almost 40 years
From the Guardian:
Arctic sea ice has melted to a level not recorded since satellite observations started in 1972 – and almost certainly not experienced for at least 8,000 years, say polar scientists.
Daily satellite sea-ice maps released by Bremen university physicists show that with a week’s more melt expected this year, the floating ice in the Arctic covered an area of 4.24 million square kilometres on 8 September. The previous one-day minimum was 4.27m sq km on 17 September 2007.
"Ice volume is now plunging faster than it did at the same time last year when the record was set," said Axel Schweiger.
If current trends continue, a largely ice-free Arctic in the summer months is likely within 30 years –that is up to 40 years earlier than was anticipated in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) assessment report.
The last time the Arctic was uncontestably free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago, at the height of the last major interglacial period, known as the Eemian.
"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,” Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Centre for Biological Diversity in San Francisco told journalists.
Arctic ice plays a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate by reflecting sunlight and keeping the polar region cool. Retreating summer sea ice is widely described by scientists as both a measure and a driver of global warming, with negative impacts on a local and planetary scale.
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(Image credit: University of Bremen via The Guardian)