Arctic sea ice `falls to record low`

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 18:10

London: The total volume of Arctic sea ice fell to a record low last year, according to a new study.

Scientists at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington estimated that last year broke the previous 2007 record for the minimum volume of ice, which is calculated from a combination of sea ice area and thickness.

"The real worrisome fact is downward trend over the last 32 years. (It fell) by a large enough margin to establish a statistically significant new record," the media quoted Axel
Schweiger of University of Washington, who led the study.

According to them, ice volume is now plunging faster than it did at the same time last year when the record was set.

The Arctic sea ice area fell below 4.6 million sq km last week with two weeks of the melt season still to go, compared with the record low of 4.13 million sq km in 2007, whereas the minimum ice extent in the early 1970s was 7 million square km.

In fact, as of July 31, the last time numbers were crunched and posted online, the volume of sea ice appeared to be 2,135 cubic miles -- more than 50 per cent lower than the
average volume and 62 per cent lower than the maximum volume of ice that covered the Arctic back in 1979, say scientists.

"Sea ice volume is an important climate indicator. It depends on both ice thickness and extent and therefore more directly tied to climate forcing than extent alone. However,
Arctic sea ice volume cannot currently be observed continuously," they said.

The scientists have based their findings after checking the model results against real readings of ice thickness using limited submarine and satellite data.

The findings are to appear in the `Journal of Geophysical Research`.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 18:10

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