When Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest level ever recorded this August, the ice covered an area 45 percent smaller than it did in the 1990’s. The amount of ice that melted in the Arctic this year is roughly the size of Canada and Texas combined.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released a video illustrating the record melt:
NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center also released its latest data on Arctic ice on Monday. The previous record for Arctic ice melt was in 2007; however, as the data show, this year brought an additional loss of ice equivalent to the size of Texas. During August of 2012, Arctic ice disappeared at a rate of 35,400 miles per day.
Researchers are calling the melt “astonishing” and “urgent.” One prominent scientist, Cambridge University’s Peter Wadhams, is now projecting that summer sea ice in the Arctic may entirely disappear in the next four years — calling the implications “terrible.”
“As the sea ice retreats in summer the ocean warms up (to 7C in 2011) and this warms the seabed too. The continental shelves of the Arctic are composed of offshore permafrost, frozen sediment left over from the last ice age. As the water warms the permafrost melts and releases huge quantities of trapped methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas so this will give a big boost to global warming,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
The National Climatic Data Center also released data showing this summer was the third-warmest ever recorded globally, with August marking the 330th consecutive month when temperatures were above the 20th century average.