According to a recent report issued by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Arctic sea ice is far from recovering because it has just reached its fourth-lowest level since satellite records have began in the late 1970s.
Researchers noted that only three times the minimum ice extent in the area was even lower – in 2007, 2011 and 2012. But, three years ago, the minimum Arctic ice extent was lowest on record.
This year the minimum ice extent was reached Friday with 1.7 million square miles, which is 700,000 square miles lower than the average in the last 25 five years. Climate scientists believe that the “downward trend” is not over yet and we should expect even lower levels of sea ice in the region.
Scientists also said that the world’s lowest ice extent event since satellite began monitoring ice caps happened in the last decade. They also noted that the current minimum extent may get even lower by the end of the year.
Ted Scambos of the NSIDC and lead author of the recent report said that the 2015 ice extent is quite low considering that there weren’t major atmospheric events that could have contributed to the ice retreat like storms did in 2012.
Scambos stated that the current data shows that the Arctic is heading towards a different state but that isn’t recovery. NASA researchers joined in the discussion and said that sea ice began retreating really quickly in 1996.
The space agency which sponsors NSIDC also noted that the 10 lowest ice extents happened between 2004 and 2015.
NASA researchers explained that the outcomes of ice retreat vary a lot and they include new navigation routes in the Arctic sea and lost habitats of polar bears and walruses. So far, the animals flocked to the shoreline and they wait for the ice to grow again.
Margaret Williams of the Washington DC-based World Wildlife Fund, recently said that about 35,000 walruses trying to climb onto Alaska’s shores were recently spotted and photographed from WWF aircrafts.
Scambos believes that having the snow cap in the Arctic nearly disappear in summer months may influence oceanic currents and atmospheric circulation in the area and, therefore, alter mid-latitude weather.
Scambos also said that the 9 lowest sea ice extents on record occurred in the last nine years and that may signal that the Arctic by no means is recovering. Scientists are now concerned that the decline recorded in the Arctic sea may fuel global warming because less sea ice means that there’s less material to reflect back sun rays and the ocean will start to trap even more heat when that happens.
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