Arctic ice shrinks to second lowest level on record

'Devastating' loss pushes Arctic sea ice to second-lowest level on record

The low sea ice coverage means sailing routes across Arctic seas that can only be navigated for a few weeks every year opened up earlier than usual, allowing gas, oil and mining companies to ship raw materials from Europe and Russian Federation to China through the Northern Sea Route.

"It's fairly devastating that we've had such consistently low sea ice". Aerial shot Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise navigating between ice in the Arctic Sea between September 15 and 174.

The minimum ice cover for 2020 was likely reached on September 15, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced.

The diminished sea ice this year is part of a declining trend in the now 42-year Arctic satellite record.

"The numbers that we're getting in terms of the extent of sea ice decrease each year put us pretty much on red alert in terms of the level of worry that we have, our concern for the stability of this environment", he explains.

NASA sea ice scientist Nathan Kurtz said 2020 was "a really warm year in the Arctic". You're losing extent, and you're losing the thick ice as well.

Of course, this would be bad news for polar bears already walking the runway towards extinction, according to recent research. The loss of ice, consequently, extends the period of time these marine mammals must fast as they wait for their feeding grounds to freeze up.


"Some studies suggest that this increase in anticyclonic conditions in the Arctic in summer results in part from the minimum sea ice extent", Fettweis told AFP.

Scientists say, perhaps the most basic point is that the shrinking ice cap is not only a symptom of global warming, it is also a driver. "Changes in sea ice at the end of the twentieth century are substantial, and if emissions follow an RCP 8.5-like path, this region is likely to experience extremes in temperature, sea ice and precipitation phase far outside anything experienced in the past century and probably much longer". Infrastructure like roads, buildings, and oil tanks, is beginning to fail.

The ice began to melt in earnest as Siberia was an estimated 14 to 18 degrees above normal during the spring.

As it turns out, there are several reasons to be anxious about the knock-on consequences of dwindling Arctic sea ice.

There are cascading effects in the Arctic, said Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC. The faster this ice sheet melts with the surrounding sea, the faster the sea level will rise worldwide.

"The decline in Arctic sea ice in summer is one of the clearest, most unequivocal signs of climate change", said Julien Nicolas, an Arctic expert at the European Union's Earth observation programme. Meier has observed an earlier onset of melting ice each year, which means more ocean is open during June and July when the most sunlight is shining.

"The ice controls the light and it controls the heat".

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