Arctic ice sets new record

Ice070810I follow the Arctic sea ice extent at Cryosphere Today. The site publishes pictures, maps and graphs of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, derived from NASA satellite data. They’ve just announced a worrying new record:

Today (August 9th), the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area broke the record for the lowest recorded ice area in recorded history. The new record came a full month before the historic summer minimum typically occurs. There is still a month or more of melt likely this year. It is therefore almost certain that the previous 2005 record will be annihilated by the final 2007 annual minima closer to the end of this summer. In previous record sea ice minima years, ice area anomalies were confined to certain sectors (N. Atlantic, Beaufort/Bering Sea, etc). The character of 2007’s sea ice melt is unique in that it is dramatic and covers the entire Arctic sector. Atlantic, Pacific and even the central Arctic sectors are showing large negative sea ice area anomalies.

I find this news disturbing for two reasons. First, the fact that the new record should be set so early in the season. That suggests that there is a lot more melting to go. The second is the language: normally cautious scientists seldom use words like “annihilate

3 thoughts on “Arctic ice sets new record”

  1. Let’s quote that piece in full, shall we bat?

    D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”

    The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention “great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

    “This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all.”

    So, bat, do these three paragraphs somehow provide you with comfort that the vast amount of evidence we have about Arctic ice extent and the speed of the current melt are somehow wrong? Just as a matter of interest, to see what the experts think Arctic ice extent was in the 1920s, you need only look here (at Cryosphere Today) to see that the 1920s and 30s show no signs of being unusual in the context of the first 50 years of the last century. Summer sea ice extent looks to hvae been about 11m km2 over that period. It’s down to 8m km2 in recent years…

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