Washington: The extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean in September declined to the second-lowest on record, said experts.
The Arctic ice cap grows each winter as the sun sets for several months and shrinks each summer as the sun rises higher in the northern sky.
Each year the Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum extent in September. It hit a record low in 2007.
The near-record ice-melt followed higher-than-average summer temperatures, but without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melting of 2007.
"Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels," Global Times reported Wednesday quoting Walt Meier, scientist at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC).
"This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable."
Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said: "The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic."
Arctic sea ice extent on Sep 9, the lowest point this year, was 4.33 million sq km.
Climate models have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100, but in recent years, ice extent has declined faster than the models predicted.
First Published: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 18:24