Arctic Sea Ice Has Melted To New Record Levels

Arctic Sea Ice Has Melted to New Record Levels

Arctic Sea Ice Has Melted to New Record Levels

The very latest scientific research shows dramatically that Arctic ice is continuing to melt at an alarming rate. Arctic ice is also melting more quickly than previously anticipated by scientists.

This is a serious theat to the habitat of the Arctic Polar bear and to the World climate.

The latest data comes from the highly respected US National Snow and Ice Data Center, or NSDIC. The Center warns that summer ice may almost completely disappear from the Arctic during the next couple of decades. This is very alarming and far earlier than previous scientific predictions.

This September NASA measurements show that the area of sea ice in the Arctic reached an all-time record low. Met offices around the world from America to Japan have confirmed that this summer temperatures in the Arctic has been unusually warm.

The extent of Arctic sea ice, measured at the end of August 2012, is just 1.58 million square miles.

This is 30,000 square miles less Arctic polar ice than the previous low set in 2007 and it is the lowest the arctic ice cap has measured since NASA records began in 1979

The Arctic region is being greatly affected by the changing climate which accompanies the melting ice. The quickly-melting ice in the Arctic has been attributed to many possible causes. Many cannot agree on the cause-effect relationship of the dramatic rapidity of melting ice, but all can agree that there is a problem, with definite consequences.

Arctic Ice Melting – The Facts

Average temperatures in the Arctic, are rising twice as much they are in the rest of the world

Arctic ice is melting, getting thinner, and rupturing more quickly.

The area of permanent ice cover is shrinking at a rate of 9-percent each decade.

Arctic ice melting, has caused coastal ice in parts of Alaska and Canada to become brittle, break away, and melt.

Increased traffic through the Northwest Passage, which opened up in 2007, may cause increasing pollution, which will add to the current problem.

Arctic ice melting, causes waters to become warmer. Ice is then not able to re-form, leaving a decreasing base of ice at the beginning of each melting season.

The Arctic Warming Cycle

In recent years, the rapidly diminishing amount of Arctic sea ice in autumn, means large transfers of heat to the atmosphere. The open water is therefore warmer than usual. Arctic ice and snow usually form a protective layer over the Arctic. When the ice and snow melt, the earth absorbs more sunlight, and gets warmer. Melting glaciers and land ice, cause sea levels to rise. The sea ice which was there previously, reflected 80-percent of the sun’s light back into the atmosphere. The Arctic Ocean water absorbs 90-percent of the sunlight. As melting increases, the ice exposes more of the ocean’s area, to the direct sunlight, and the temperatures rise. This cycle accelerates the ice melting even further.

Effects Of Arctic Ice Melting

The rapidly-melting Arctic ice may have devastating effects on the ecosystems within the Arctic region. The Ward Ice Shelf, was once a contained, freshwater lake. When it melted, it drained into the Arctic Ocean, forcing polar bears, seals, walruses and whales of the region to migrate in search of new food sources. The natives who lived off of the wildlife, were suddenly without their natural habitat as well.

Arctic warming also creates a threat to the Arctic culture and its survival. Entire villages could be uprooted, due to the fear of the land turning into swamps. The Arctic is also a major force in global weather. If the Arctic temperature is raised, it affects the rest of the world’s weather. The Northern Hemispheric weather patterns are predicted by Arctic weather patterns.

When weather patterns are affected, food production is also affected. Shorter periods of cold weather will affect crops and the types of food certain regions characteristically cultivate. Rising sea levels would threaten low-lying, coastal areas, cause beach erosion, more violent storms and contamination of freshwater supplies. The Arctic sea ice plays a very important role in keeping temperatures around the world stabilized.

Other Consequences of the Record Melting Of Arctic Ice Cap

Northwest Passage opening

The opening of the Northwest Passage, due to Arctic ice melting, has allowed access to the new parts of the Arctic Ocean, and its seabed, which was previously blocked for centuries.

Countries are now trying to claim these new, exposed area, for its oil and gas, which is buried under the ocean floor. This may create world security issues. It is estimated that 25-percent of the world’s remaining fossil fuel is located under the Arctic seabed. It is ironic that this is the same natural fuel, which has caused the seabed to be exposed for exploration.

Permafrost melt

When the Arctic ice melts, and the temperatures grow warmer, the permafrost begins to melt as well. Without the layer of frozen permafrost covering the ground, massive amounts of methane are released, causing a further greenhouse effect. Methane is a highly-potent greenhouse gas, which is twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This will increase the rapidity of global warming, which then in turn causes more permafrost to melt, and so on.

Global Warming

Scientists comment that the lack of Arctic ice, represents clear proof that the planet is indeed warming. Whether or not we know the specific cause matters not. The facts are facts, the consequences are clear. The consequences of Global Warming are already evident in some Arctic regions. Record melting of Arctic ice is important and are likely to affect the entire world.


Related Articles:

The Causes of Global Warming

Polar Ice Caps Melting

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