According to a research compiled by the The National Snow and Ice Data Center the Arctic sea ice coverage this winter may reach a yearly record-low maximum. The scientists claim that the annual melting will likely start very early.
The maximum extent of the Arctic sea ice coverage has reached 5,59 million square miles, a lower surface than anytime in recorded history, said the Boulder-based center. The data showed that this year’s figures were 6..35 percent lower than the 1981-2010 average.
The sea ice surface has decreased since February 25, sooner than expected. The ice extent usually peaks around the middle of March, while last year its highest point was on 21st of March, on the spring equinox.
“We are seeing that the maximum is going to be at or near a record low, unless something funny happens in the next two weeks, which it could”, said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
He added that the results don’t necessary mean that a huge summer melt-off is coming, even tough sea ice is exceptionally low this year in some specific regions, like Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk or the Bering Sea. Mr. Serreze also stated that in most of these areas the ice generally melts out in summer anyway.
The scientist added that it is not yet clear what will happen to the health of the ice after this fast-start of the melting season. He mentioned that measurements taken during the summer and fall are more important than those taken by winter satellite, being more accurate in terms of age, thickness and strength, and not only ice extent.
The best chances for a more relevant evaluations will be in September, after a season’s melt. Mark Serreze said.
Arctic sea ice extent is reaching record low after record low. In September 16, 2012, the extent declined to 1.32 million square miles, its lowest surface since the satellite measurements started in 1979.
Last year’s seasonal low was 1.94 million square miles, higher than 2012’s level, but still one of the lowest in the satellite record.
A NASA recent study revealed that while sea ice has diminished in most regions of the Arctic, it grows in some parts of the Antarctic. However, the loss is greater than the gain.
Image Source: Earth Times