Water Week

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Arctic sea ice 39 per cent below long-term average from 1979 to 2000 as record tumbles

Posted by waterweek on 9 October 2007

According to Will Dunham in Washington, Arctic sea ice hit a record low this summer, reported The Courier Mail (3/10/2007, p. 36).

Record shattered: Researchers at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre measured the ice during the annual melt season beginning in March and ending in September. The average extent for Septem­ber, when ice was at its lowest quantities, slipped to 4.28 million sq km, breaking by nearly a quarter the previous record low for the month set two years ago. “Overall there’s been a steep and significant downward trend since we’ve been getting good satellite data starting in 1979,” scientist Walt Meier said. “We’ve got the final numbers now for this September, and it’s a really dramatic record low. It didn’t just break the record, it shattered the record.” Sea ice last month was 39 per cent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000, he said.

Ice-free Arctic possible: Meanwhile, a NASA-led study had documented a 23 per cent loss during the past two winters in the extent of the Arctic’s thick, year-round sea ice cover. The reduction of perennial win­ter sea ice was the primary cause of this summer’s fastest-ever sea ice retreat on record and subsequent smallest-ever extent of total Arctic coverage, the scientists said. Their findings appeared in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Meier said that in the next 25 years there might be an ice-free Arctic during the summer.

The Courier Mail, 3/10/2007, p. 36

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