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Arctic Sea Ice Continues To Shrink

September 18, 2013
Environmental Protection

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p>Despite showing a slight recovery from last year, when the collapse of sea ice cover broke all records, scientists have warned that the long term trend is still in line to produce an ice free arctic during the summer months by the middle of the century. The Arctic has lost 40% of its sea ice cover since 1980 with the most dramatic changes happening in the last decade. As a key indicator of climate change, the loss of sea ice will form a major part of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next week.

The European Space Agency who monitor sea ice thickness using the CryoSat satellite have confirmed that the Arctic’s crust measured in April was the thinnest observed in three years. Professor Andrew Shepherd from Leeds University says the satellite readings show the rapid rate of change which is occurring. “CryoSat continues to provide clear evidence of diminishing Arctic sea ice,” he said, “The volume of the sea ice at the end of last winter was less than 15,000 cubic kilometers (3,600 cu. miles), which is lower than any other year going into summer, and indicates less winter growth than usual.” A reduction in thickness and surface area is the combination that scientists fear will lead to an ice free Arctic in the summer months. A situation that according to Andreas Munchow from the University of Delaware is inevitable; “We really are heading towards an ice-free Arctic in the summer. It just takes a freak event eventually, in the next five or 10 or even 20 years, and the next year there will be a huge Arctic cover. But it is all going to be thin on top, and the long-term trend is that the ice is disappearing in the summer in the Arctic.”