Last week we reported that The European Space Agency’s CryoSat 2 probe had completed its 18-month-long mission and revealed that over 900 cubic kilometers of summer sea ice had disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. That’s a loss 50% greater than figures predicted by most polar scientists. Now scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center have stated that Arctic sea ice is set to hit a record low by the end of this month.
New data cited by the scientific team shows that sea ice is tracking below the previous record low, set in 2007. According to the new figures, on the 13th of August Arctic ice coverage was 483,000 sq km (186,000 sq miles) below the previous record low for the same date five years ago. The worst part is that ice levels are expected to continue to fall till late September.
Speaking to BBC News, US National Snow and Ice Data Center lead scientist Ted Scambos said: “A new daily record… would be likely by the end of August. Chances are it will cross the previous record while we are still in ice retreat.”
The team added that since June, the average rate of ice loss has been “rapid”, with over 100,000 sq km melting each day. This rate doubled a few days earlier during a major storm. Professor Seymour Laxon, professor of climate physics at University College London, shared his thoughts with the BBC saying: “We got very close to a record minimum last year. The fact that Cryosat showed thinner ice last winter, it is not surprising to me that it looks like we will have a record minimum this year.”
It is feared that if the rate continues, the chances of an ice-free summer could be closer than scientists previously anticipated. “The previous [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report (published in 2007) stated that the likely date for an ice-free Arctic in the summer – and definitions for this vary a bit – was 2100,” Laxon explained.
“When we had the 2007 minimum, that date was brought forward to 2030-2040. The fact that we look set to get another record ice minimum in such a short space of time means that the modellers may once again need to go and look at what their projections are telling them.”
If there is no ice during the summer, less sunlight will be reflected back into space – meaning the planet will get drastically hotter.
Via BBC News