New Delhi: The melting of the Arctic sea ice has scientists worried and they have been tirelessly monitoring what they have started calling the 'new normal' of the frigid sea.
This began in the month of March with a record low maximum extent and relatively rapid ice loss through May. The melt slowed down in June, but then, after two large storms went across the Arctic basin in August, sea ice melt picked up speed through early September.
At that point, the scientists felt it was unlikely that this year's summertime sea ice minimum extent will set a new record, but, it seems that they've been proven wrong.
NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder have confirmed that as of September 10, the Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its annual lowest extent. This is its second lowest level since records began.
The scientists are in shock, since the conditions at the North Pole were cooler than average for that time of year.
According to NASA, an analysis of satellite data showed that at 1.60 million square miles (4.14 million square kilometers), the 2016 Arctic sea ice minimum extent is effectively tied with 2007 for the second lowest yearly minimum in the satellite record. Since satellites began monitoring sea ice in 1978, researchers have observed a steep decline in the average extent of Arctic sea ice for every month of the year.
“It’s pretty remarkable that this year’s sea ice minimum extent ended up the second lowest, after how the melt progressed in June and July,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “June and July are usually key months for melt because that’s when you have 24 hours a day of sunlight – and this year we lost melt momentum during those two months,” NASA reported.
“It is definitely not just September that’s losing sea ice. The record makes it clear that the ice is not rebounding to where it used to be, even in the midst of the winter,” Parkinson said.
A video released by NASA shows the evolution of the Arctic sea ice cover from its wintertime maximum extent, which was reached on Mar. 24, 2016, and was the lowest on record for the second year in a row, to its apparent yearly minimum, which occurred on Sept. 10, 2016, and is the second lowest in the satellite era.
Check it out below:
(Video courtesy: NASA.gov Video)