Data Shows Recent Dramatic Melting in Arctic Sea Ice Cover
15.07.2011 - Water & Oceans, Ice & Snow, Arctic
This year’s melt season in the Arctic has been seeing ice disappear at a record rate, according to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and data from the University of Washington Polar Science Center. With particularly low sea ice extent seen in the Kara Sea region and ice starting to break up in the Beaufort Sea, the continuing a trend of decline in Arctic Sea ice coverage seems to be continuing.
Sea ice extent for June 2011 was the second lowest in the satellite data record since 1979 and average sea ice extent fell below that of June 2007, just months before a record low boreal summer sea ice extent was recorded in September 2007.
Average extent of the sea ice was 11.01 million km2, 140,000 km2 above record low sea ice extent for the month of June (set in June 2010), yet 2.15 million km2 below the average sea ice extent seen between 1979 and 2000.
Air temperatures in the Arctic were 1-4°C warmer than usual over most of the Arctic during the month of June, except for the Beaufort and Greenland Seas, which saw temperatures near normal or slightly below normal.
Mark Erreze, NSIDC Director, was quoted in The Guardian as saying that with sea ice thinning in addition to diminishing in extent, weather patterns that normally would not melt some ice “now get rid of much more.” Dr Erreze went on to say that “there will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030.” This is 40 years earlier than anticipated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment report released in 2007.