Arctic Sea Ice Measurements Mixed, Values Bumping Along Near New Record Minimums

Today, an average of sea ice monitors showed that sea ice was more or less stable. The NSIDC extent value, shown above, stayed about level at around 3.499 million square kilometers. JAXA sea ice extent fell from its newly revised value yesterday to touch 3.671 million square kilometers. Cryosphere today showed some growth in sea ice area with values reaching 2.368 million square kilometers.

Temperatures over much of the Arctic remain high for this time of year, but average ranges for air temperatures above the 80th parallel are at or near the temperature which sea water tends to freeze/melt. Temperature alone would indicate a near equilibrium. But weather conditions, at this point, would normally favor equilibrium or refreeze.

Current trends do seem to indicate we are at or near a bottom for this melt season. The question is whether or not another minor bought of melting pushes this year’s records into even further decline, whether we begin a slow re-freeze soon, or whether we bump along at bottom for a bit longer. Based on trends, it would seem we are most likely experiencing the latter.

This year’s melt season has reached a number of important milestones that makes it increasingly difficult to ignore the impacts of human caused global warming. Since the 1950s, the world has lost more than 65% of its sea ice extent coverage in the Arctic. Since 1979, when satellite records began, the world has lost more than 50%. And over the past decade alone, the world has lost more then 37% of its sea ice extent coverage. This year’s loss is about 15%.

The story for sea ice volume is even worse. 78% of Arctic sea ice volume has been lost since record tracking began in 1979.

At current trends, the Arctic will be ice free or nearly ice free within a decade. If those trends continue, the Arctic will be ice free year round by the mid 2030s. Even if these trends slow somewhat, which is increasingly in doubt, a much more rapid than expected melt will occur in the Arctic. These are the rampant impacts of human caused global warming.


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