Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Arctic sea ice recovers from 2012 record low, but long-term melting trend continues

Photo: NASA

Sea ice cover in the Arctic has improved since 2012, when record low levels were noted, but preliminary statistics from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in the US suggest 2013 was still one of the sparsest years on record.

On September 13, 5.099m sq km of sea ice were recorded in the vulnerable region – a significant improvement from the record low point of 3.413m sq km, reached on September 16 last year.

Following a relatively cool summer, sea ice extent fell to a little over 5m sq km (1.93m square miles) over the first two weeks of September and is at or near the minimum extent for the year. NSIDC will announce the final minimum extent and date once it is confirmed”, the NSIDC said on its website.

Speaking to the Guardian, the NSIDC added that the long-term trends suggest that the Arctic will eventually be ice-free in the summer months. Scientists in New York recently claimed the entire region could be free of ice by 2054.

Julienne Stroeve, a scientist at the NSIDC, said, “It certainly is continuing the long-term decline. We are looking at long-term changes and there are going to be bumps and wiggles along the long-term declining trend, but all the climate models are showing that we are eventually going to lose all of that summer sea ice.”

Arctic sea ice actually reached its lowest point on record in August 2012, before experiencing further melting that set the new low standard.

At the time, NSIDC scientists said the Arctic region was “fundamentally changing” over a long period of time.

Two newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, were recently criticised by scientists for misreporting the rate of Arctic ice loss.

Further reading:

Arctic sea ice continues its worrying decline

Arctic ice reaches record low, with more melting expected

Arctic could be ‘ice-free’ by 2054, say scientists

Daily Mail and Telegraph criticised for shortsighted Arctic ice loss reporting

Controversy over methane ‘time bomb’ in melting Arctic

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