Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change June 21, 2012 - 6:33 am

Arctic sea ice hits record low for June 18: data centre

Sea ice extent now slightly below 2010 levels, the previous record low at this time of year

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Here you can see Arctic sea ice extent for 18 June 2012 (left) was 10.62 million square kilometres, 31,000 sq. km. below the same day in 2010 (right). The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (FIGURE COURTESY OF THE NSIDC)
Here you can see Arctic sea ice extent for 18 June 2012 (left) was 10.62 million square kilometres, 31,000 sq. km. below the same day in 2010 (right). The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (FIGURE COURTESY OF THE NSIDC)

After a period of rapid Arctic sea ice loss through the first half of June, sea ice extent is now slightly below 2010 levels, the previous record low at this time of year, the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center said in a June 20 update.

And the speed at which the sea ice is melting on the Arctic Ocean puts the coverage behind 2007 — when sea ice hit a record low in September.

Recent ice loss rates have been 100,000 to 150,000 square kilometres per day, more than double the usual rate, the NSIDC said.

On June 18, the five-day average sea ice extent was 10.62 million sq. km.

This was 31,000 sq. km. below the same day in 2010, the previous record low for the day, and 824,000 sq. km. below the same day in 2007, the year of record low September extent.

The main contributors to the unusually rapid ice loss to this point in June are the disappearance of most of the winter sea ice in the Bering Sea, rapid ice loss in the Barents and Kara Seas, and early development of open water areas in the Beaufort and Laptev Seas north of Alaska and Siberia, the NSIDC said.

Early melt onset, and clear skies near the solstice on June 20 provided favorable conditions for more rapid melting, and warming of the ocean in open-water areas.

A similar pattern of high pressure throughout summer 2007 was a major factor toward causing the record low September sea ice extent that year, the NSIDC said.

While these patterns and conditions have looked similar to 2007, over the last couple days the high pressure pattern over the Beaufort Sea has broken down.

So while the sea ice extent is at a record low for the date, it is still early in the melt season, said the NSIDC, noting that changing weather patterns throughout the summer will affect what happens to sea ice during the rest of the summer.

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