Arctic Ice Melts 18% Below Previous Record: Alarm Bells Are Ringing

by John Johnston on 09/20/2012

in Earth

Arctic sea ice

This month Arctic sea ice shrank 18 percent below its previous record low, set back in 2007. Scientists say this is another clear sign of global warming, and this event should be setting off climate change alarm bells around the world.

Arctic ice has melted to an unprecedented low of 3.41 million square kilometers, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. The ice extent was a jaw-dropping 700,000 square kilometers below the previous record of 4.17 million square kilomters. The ice is now beginning its annual refreeze again after this season’s alarming melt. Arctic sea ice melts during the warmer summer months and of course refreezes over winter.

Arctic Sea Ice minimum extent 2012

Mark Serreze, head of the NSIDC, has said that although scientists have been well aware that climate change is going to impact the Arctic first, they were not prepared for just how fast the changes have been occurring in recent years. Arctic sea ice is seen as a key indicator of climate change. It has shown a dramatic decline over the past 30 years, culminating in this year’s unprecedented decline.

Arctic ice is known by scientists to have a key role in regulating climate, doing the important job of reflecting a great deal of the sun’s energy back to space, acting like an air conditioner for the planet.

Feature image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Bottom image: National Snow & Ice Data Center

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