Arctic sea ice thickness only half of 2001 level
September 14, 2007
Arctic sea is thinning and disappearing, report German researchers.
An Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research expedition to the North Polar Sea found that large areas of the Arctic sea-ice are only one meter thick this year — half the thickness found in 2001. The findings support concerns that large expanses of polar ice could soon disppaear from the Arctic during summer months.
“The ice cover in the North Polar Sea is dwindling, the ocean and the atmosphere are becoming steadily warmer, the ocean currents are changing” said chief scientist Dr Ursula Schauer, from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.
Sea ice minimum 1979
Sea ice minimum 2005. Courtesy of NASA
The report comes the same week that the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder (NSIDC) said that sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean is presently 20 percent below its all time lowest extent and may decline further before winter.
Satellite data shows that the Arctic ice pack covers 4.24 million square kilometers (1.63 million square miles). The previous record low of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) was set in September 2005.
The Arctic is particularly sensitive to changes in the extent of sea ice, which helps reflect sunlight back into space, cooling the region. When sea ice melts, the dark areas of open water absorb the sun’s radiation, trigger a positive feedback loop that worsens melting.