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Arctic Sea Ice Set a Record Low Every Day During May

Andrew Freedman - Mashable
go to original
June 6, 2016



A polar bear looking for food at the edge of the pack ice north of Svalbard, Norway. Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket)

After Arctic sea ice set a record low annual maximum in March, it was widely expected that this summer melt season would rank among the top 5 or 10 lowest melt seasons on record since the dawn of satellite observations there in 1979.

However, even the most pessimistic projections have turned out to be too conservative so far, as pulses of unusually mild air and milder-than-average ocean temperatures have eroded the unusually thin sea ice cover from above and below.

Unusually thin and even totally absent sea ice cover is emerging on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic, raising the possibility of a new sea ice record low and possibly a hastening of when the first ice-free Arctic summer takes place.

During every day in May, for example, sea ice extent — which measures how much ocean is at least 15% ice-covered — was lower than ever observed since 1979. This means the 2016 sea ice extent is melting faster than at the same time of the year in 2012, when sea ice set a record low. And unless a major weather pattern change happens soon, it is becoming more likely that a new record low could be set this year.

Near-surface temperature departures from the median in terms of degree days above/below freezing. The red line shows that the period from February onward has been off the charts warm. (NSIDC)

"Yes, from what I can see, since early May we have been at record daily lows as assessed over the period of satellite observations," said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

Read the rest at Mashable

Related: Fractures Seen in Rapidly Melting Arctic Sea Ice, and It Was Only May (Mashable)

Related: Climate Change, Clean Energy on Agenda for Three Amigos Summit (The Canadian Press)

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