Arctic summer melt - news and views round-up

  • 15 Aug 2012, 12:50
  • Carbon Brief staff

Every year, sea ice in the Arctic grows and shrinks with the seasons. But it's also affected by other things, including the weather, which plays a large role in explaining changes from year to year.

This means that although Arctic sea ice is  in long-term decline, that decline is not uniform. In 2007 the sea ice reached a record low, and the trend this year is looking pretty similar.

In the run-up to the announcement of the sea ice minimum in September, the amount of coverage on the Arctic tends to build. So from now until the minimum is reached, we'll be regularly bringing together some of the best links, to give you the latest sea ice news and commentary all in one place.

Here are the links for Wednesday 15th August, 2012:

The New Scientist reports that the extent of Arctic ice is smaller than it was at this time in 2007, and we could be heading for a record low. It says further study will probably conclude that weather conditions are contributing to this year's low, but climate change is also at work.

NSIDC reports that the last two weeks have seen fairly rapid melting, tracking below the same time period in 2007. This pace nearly doubled for a few days in early August during a major Arctic cyclonic storm, but overall the weather conditions have shown no consistent pattern. NSIDC reports that sea ice extent currently stands at 4.9 million square kilometers

At the record low in 2007, 4.3 million square kilometers of ice remained. Some scientists have begun making predictions about how much sea ice will be left at this year's minimum -  Researchers from the University of Washington's Polar Science Center expect 4.4 million square kilometers of ice will remain, while the median of 23 predictions collected by theSea Ice Outlook is 4.3 million.

NASA's Earth Observatory provides some visual context to the discussion around this year's seasonal sea ice decline. Its satellite images show ice retreat in the Parry channel over the last month. The Parry channel forms part of the Northwest Passage - a shipping route which opened during the 2007 sea ice low. At the moment, the entrance to the Northwest Passage via the McClure Strait remains blocked.


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