Arctic ice melting now dramatic, new data show

The Arctic might be ice-free much sooner than previously believed, data from ESA's Cryosat programme indicate. Illustration:

Ice loss is fifty percent higher than predicted. The Arctic might be all free of summer ice within a decade, data from ESA’s Cryosat programme show.


We may experience the moment when the whole Arctic ice cap is gone “very soon”, Dr Seymour Laxon, of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London (UCL), the organization responsible for analysis of CryoSat-2 data, told The satellite is the first ever which has the capability to measure the thickness of the ice cap, ESA informs. It was launched from the Russian Baikonur site in 2010.

New unique data show that ice thickness in the Arctic disappears at a far higher pace than previously expected. The rate of loss is 50 percent higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming.

Preliminary results indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from only over the past year.

While, the Arctic summer ice in 2004 amounted to about 13,000 cubic kilometres, the volumes had in 2012 dropped to 7,000 cubic kilometres. If the current annual loss of around 900 cubic kilometres continues, summer ice coverage could disappear in about a decade in the Arctic, Euractiv reports.

The same trend is registered by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. According to the Center, Arctic sea ice extent during the first two weeks of August continued to track below the 2007 record low. As of August 13, ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record, with about five weeks still remaining in the melt season, a press release informs.

“This has been a very interesting summer”, the Center concludes.

The ice extent recorded for 1 August of 6.53 million square kilometers is the lowest in the satellite record. The previous record for the same date was set in 2007 at 6.64 million square kilometers.

However, the ice extent remained near average in the Chukchi Sea, and ice continued to block sections of both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage.