Arctic ice cover hits historic low: scientists

Sep 10, 2011 by Marlowe Hood
A fishermen in Arctic waters off the coast of Greenland. The area covered by Arctic sea ice reached it lowest point this week since the start of satellite observations in 1972, German researchers announced on Saturday.

The area covered by Arctic sea ice reached its lowest point this week since the start of satellite observations in 1972, German researchers announced on Saturday.

"On September 8, the extent of the was 4.240 million square kilometres (1.637 million square miles). This is a new historic minimum," said Georg Heygster, head of the Physical Analysis of Remote Sensing Images unit at the University of Bremen's Institute of Environmental Physics.

The new mark is about half-a-percent under his team's measurements of the previous record, which occurred on September 16, 2007, he said.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the record set on that date was 4.1 million sq km (1.6 sq mi). The discrepancy, Heygster explained by phone, was due to slightly different data sets and algorithms.

"But the results are internally consistent in both cases," he said, adding that he expected the NSIDC to come to the same conclusion in the coming days.

cover plays a critical role in regulating Earth's climate by reflecting sunlight and keeping the cool.

Retreating summer sea ice -- 50 percent smaller in area than four decades ago -- is described by scientists as both a measure and a driver of global warming, with negative impacts on a local and planetary scale.

It is also further evidence of a strong human imprint on climate patterns in recent decades, the researchers said.

"The sea ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next, caused by weather influence," Heygster said in an statement released by the university.

" show, rather, that the reduction is related to the man-made global warming which, due to the albedo effect, is particularly pronounced in the Arctic."

Albedo increases when an area once covered by reflective snow or ice -- which bounces 80 percent of the Sun's radiative force back into space -- is replaced by deep blue sea, which absorbs the heat instead.

Temperatures in the Arctic region have risen more than twice as fast as the global average over the last half century.

The Arctic ice cover has also become significantly thinner in recent decades, though it is not possible to measure the shrinkage in thickness as precisely as for surface area, the statement said.

Satellite tracking since 1972 shows that the extent of ice is dropping at about 11 percent per decade.

NSIDC director Mark Serreze has said that summer ice cover could disappear entirely by 2030, leaving nothing but heat-trapping "blue ocean."

The NSIDC likewise monitors Arctic ice cover on a daily basis, but has not announced record-low . Data posted on its website as of Saturday only covered the period through September 6.

By last week, it said, sea ice is almost completely gone from the channels of the Northwest Passage. The southern route -- also known as Amunden's Route -- was also ice free, as was the Northern Sea Route along Siberia.

But even as the thaw opens shipping lanes, it disrupts the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and poses a severe threat to fauna, including polar bears, ice seals and walruses, conservation groups say.

"This stunning loss of Arctic is yet another wake-up call that climate change is here now and is having devastating effects around the world," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco.

The last time the Arctic was uncontestably free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago, during the height of the last major interglacial period, known as the Eemian.

Air temperatures in the Arctic were warmer than today, and sea level was also four to six metres (13 to 20 feet) higher because the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets had partly melted.

Global average temperatures today are close to the maximum warmth seen during the Eemian.

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User comments : 17

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RobPaulG
1.9 / 5 (29) Sep 11, 2011
Does anybody believe these "scientists" any more? I think the scam is over...
tigger
4.1 / 5 (22) Sep 11, 2011
There was no scam. This is as real as it gets. I can't say anything that will open your eyes. I don't know why I write this. The end.
Parsec
4 / 5 (21) Sep 11, 2011
Does anybody believe these "scientists" any more? I think the scam is over...

I am sure that the data collected by the satellites was part of the 'scam'. After all, any data that doesn't support your ideology is automatically a lie on the face of it. Not because you have any data to refute it, just because you have your little mind already made up.

One word for this type of anti-scientific bias is 'Luddite'. Another is 'Moron'.
BradynStanaway
4 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2011
Does anybody believe these "scientists" any more? I think the scam is over...

This could be sarcasm..
eachus
3.9 / 5 (11) Sep 11, 2011
Once you understand what this war is about, you can choose to pick sides or ignore it. But first you have to know why the hockey stick caused such an uproar. Ten years ago physicists started to zero in on the links between sunspots, cosmic rays, clouds and rainfall. The smoking gun was the Maunder Minimum in sunspots that coincided with the Little Ice Age. Then Michael Mann published the "hockey stick" which erased the Little Ice Age. This was viewed by physicists and other scientists in the "hard sciences," as a declaration of war.

Over the next decade, dozens of papers appeared by physicists, geologists, biologists, chemists, and even a few climate specialists. The theme was that the Little Ice Age, and the Medieval Warm Period were real and global in scope. Michael Mann then withdrew the hockey stick, but people keep printing it. It is not the data in the blade which is bad, that came from a different source. It's the missing bumps in the handle which make it a sideways Z.
omatumr
1.3 / 5 (13) Sep 11, 2011
1. Earth's climate has changed and is changing.
2. The Sun has evolved and is evolving.
3. Life has evolved and is evolving

We are protected from dangerous irradiation emitted by the Sun's pulsar core by:

a.) A solar mantle made mostly of Fe, O, Ni, Si, S, Mg and Ca
b.) A solar photosphere made mostly of waste products (H and He)
c.) Distance from the Sun

References:

1. "The demise of established dogmas on the formation of the Solar System", Nature 303 (1983) 286

http://tallbloke....1983.pdf

2. "Is the Universe expanding?", Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011).

http://journalofc...102.html

3. "Origin and evolution of life", The Journal of Modern Physics 2, 587-594 (2011)

http://dl.dropbox...5079.pdf

4. "Neutron repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA PI for Apollo
plaasjaapie
3.1 / 5 (16) Sep 11, 2011
"The last time the Arctic was uncontestably free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago, during the height of the last major interglacial period, known as the Eemian.

Air temperatures in the Arctic were warmer than today, and sea level was also four to six metres (13 to 20 feet) higher because the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets had partly melted.

Global average temperatures today are close to the maximum warmth seen during the Eemian."

I wonder what kind of man-caused carbon dioxide overload caused that situation?
djr
4.1 / 5 (9) Sep 11, 2011
"I wonder what kind of man-caused carbon dioxide overload caused that situation?"

Perhaps you should ask one of the thousands of scientists who are studying this issue plasslaapie. After all - the topic was raised in this paper - so it is likely they are aware of it. I believe there are many factors that have influenced the climate shifts throughout the earth's history - and climate scientists are of course studying all of these issues. Despite this knowledge - they believe that green house gasses are the primary driver of the current warming trend.

David.
jamesrm
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 11, 2011
"Michael Mann then withdrew the hockey stick, but people keep printing it."

Really, and where did you read this?

Novel Analysis Confirms Climate "Hockey Stick" Graph November 2009
http://www.scient...han-ever
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 11, 2011
"I wonder what kind of man-caused carbon dioxide overload caused that situation?"

Try looking up "Milankovitch cycles" and stop believing science thinks the only driver of climate over the Earth's history has been man.
Nanobanano
1.7 / 5 (7) Sep 11, 2011
NSIDC director Mark Serreze has said that summer ice cover could disappear entirely by 2030


Very consistent with my own independent rough approximations, in which I totally ignored positive feedbacks from CO2 and "other" albedo effects, and focused just on changes in albedo in the arctic alone.

I found that using a linear regression, and then projecting it forward in time, all of the sea ice would be gone in the summer of 2053.

Using exponential regressions and projecting them forwards in time, I found the ice would be gone as early as the summer of 2026.

Changing the coefficient of the exponential regressions makes almost no difference in timing, usually 1 to 3 years at most for reasonable margins of error in the estimate/guestimate.

After some intuitive studying of the changes in albedo and the energy absorbed to melt ice, I discovered a "cycle" of 4 to 6 years in the rate of cumulative melting...continued...
Nanobanano
2.4 / 5 (7) Sep 11, 2011
And so having discovered that "cycle" which is based purely on solar inputs per unit area, and the heat of melting of ice per unit volume, we discover that once one unit area of ice melts and pays for it's own heat of melting, it then begins to pay for ANOTHER unit area of ice to be melted, and etc.

I was able to apply some intuitive graphical analysis and the sequence of the sum of integers, and some other mathematical trickery to devise in a THIRD way that the ice will definitly be melted within just a few decades.

It goes like this: If 1 unit of ice can totally pay for it's own melting through albedo changes within 4 to 6 years, then the rate of melting accumulates like so:

1 2 3 4 ...

which is the same as n(n 1)/2, to tell us the sum of the unit of ice that have had a net loss melting after "n" cycles, and therefore how much "extra" radiation is being absorbed instead of reflected.

While this is purely abstract, it allows upper and lower limits on the rate of melting
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Sep 11, 2011
The Cuban Missile Crisis [1] convinced leaders [2] to save the world from nuclear war in 1971 by uniting nations to work together to stop global climate change.

This charade misrepresented observations [3-6] for decades that showed

a. Earths climate always changes
b. The Sun always evolves
c. Life continuously evolves

1. Khrushchev-Kennedy Letters (Oct 1962) www.historyteache...Days.pdf

2. Deep roots of Climategate (2011)
http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

3. The demise of dogmas on Solar System origin, Nature 303 (1983) 286
http://tallbloke....1983.pdf

4. Is the Universe expanding?, J. Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011).
http://journalofc...102.html

5. Evolution of life, Mod Physics 2, 587-594 (2011)
http://dl.dropbox...5079.pdf

6. Neutron repulsion, A. J. (2011)
http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1
Nanobanano
1.9 / 5 (7) Sep 11, 2011
O:

Everyone knows earth's climate has always changed.

Personally, I don't "care" what is causing the change, per se, only the results.

Whatever portion is man-made, which it turns out is the smallest variable of all, will eventually need to be addressed, I suppose.

For example, I found that for the melting of Greenland, the ice cap could theoretically melt within 410 years through albedo changes alone, and ignoring increases in CO2.

On the other hand, if you increase CO2 somewhat as it has been, on a slop of 2.2 PPM per year for the next hundred years, but treat albedo as constant, then greenland's ice could melt in 950 years, which is over twice as long.

But if you combine the two effects, as the real world does, the Greenland's ice could melt TOTALLY in as little as 300 years, by my calculations.

So even if the production of CO2 rose continually for the next 100 years, the CO2 would only be contributing 1/3rd as much of the total global warming as albedo.
Nanobanano
1.9 / 5 (7) Sep 11, 2011
Additionally, there are other natural climate cycles which could contribute to melting Greenland faster than "normal," at least in terms of the modern record.

precession of the earth's orbit and axis.

Minor pole shifts caused by the earthquakes and sea level rise.*

* yes, sea level rise would lengthen days, but also, in the case of greenland's ice melting, it would cause a minor, gradual pole shift as ice melted and water became "level" with the mean sea level having risen; since the greenland ice cap is assymetric and is not centered on the pole, conservation of angular momentum would require the planet's axis of rotation to change, perhaps by a few feet or so, not huge, as the ice melts. This would obviously cause further "minor" climate change.

Everything is related. Climate changes geology, and geology changes climate.

The system is neither closed nor isolated, NOR is it a one-dimensional classical textbook problem where we can temporarily ignore variables...
thermodynamics
4.3 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2011
Wow. This one sure brought the loons out. This is a report on MEASUREMENTS!!! It is not some speculation or estimation. It is measured. For those who don't know about the Milankovitch cycles, they need to read up.

http://en.wikiped...h_cycles

As was pointed out above. For those who think this is business as usual, stop watching Fox News for your science source.

And, for Oliver, please restart your medication. We really don't want to hear more about neutron repulsion being the basis for every thread on this site.

One of the posters above said it best when he referred to those "refuting" this article as Luddites.

Please show your work, eachus, when you make claims about the "hockey stick" as was pointed out by jamesrm above. eachus went so far as to call this a war when it is science (possibly used as a means to continue to pollute). Interesting posts on this report of measurements.
Birger
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 12, 2011
You cannot play in a major league without years of training. You cannot do climate science and expect to be taken seriously if you haven't done years of study on the topic.

I do not have experience of climate science, but the experts of climate science have a 99% consensus.
Since the experts are spread across all continents and base their research on hundreds of thousands of data sets, the idea of a global science conspiracy is about as credible as blaming stuff on aliens from Zeta Reticuli.

If you want to look for malign intent, you need not go further than R. Murdoch, the owner of Fox News. A simple check will show that he has consistently used his media to further the agendas of his political allies. His current political allies oppose action on climate change, and by a strange coincidence Fox News belittle all evidence of climate change...
Think for yourself. And when the issues are too complex for any individual, look to the best current science for advice.