Tags: arctic | sea ice | minimum | second | lowest

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum: Summer Measurement Hits Second Lowest Ever

Image: Arctic Sea Ice Minimum: Summer Measurement Hits Second Lowest Ever

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende tour the Blomstrand Glacier. Kerry visited Norway's extreme north to view areas impacted by climate change with melting Arctic ice and the opening of new sea lanes. (EVAN VUCCI/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 16 Sep 2016 06:19 PM

Arctic sea ice hit its second-lowest summer minimum ever last week, according to data released Thursday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.

On Sept. 10, sea ice was measured at 1.6 million square miles, which is 911,000 square miles below average. USA Today reported that ice center director Mark Serreze was surprised by the number. “It was a stormy, cloudy, and fairly cool summer,” he said. Historically, such weather conditions slow down the summer ice loss.”

The lowest sea ice levels recorded were in 2012.

Ocean water that melts each summer and refreezes during winter makes up sea ice, which is typically largest in March. Wildlife like polar bears and walruses are affected by sea ice levels, and the levels also impact the circulation of the ocean and the atmosphere. Arctic sea ice reflects solar energy and keeps the ocean waters from absorbing it and getting warmer, an effect that is more pronounced in summer when days at the Arctic Circle are long.

Melanie Lancaster of the World Wildlife Fund told USA Today, “Conservation action to preserve the Arctic is urgently needed to keep up with these changes,” adding that populations shift and some species experience stress when sea ice declines.

NASA scientist Walt Meier explained that smaller wintertime maximums will continue because of warmer ocean waters in addition to a warmer atmosphere. “Although the maximum reach of the sea ice can vary a lot each year depending on winter weather conditions, we’re seeing a significant downward trend, and that’s ultimately related to the warming atmosphere and oceans,” NASA's Meier said.

Since 1979, a total of 620,000 square miles of sea ice has been lost. 

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Arctic sea ice hit its second-lowest summer minimum ever last week, according to data released Thursday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA. On Sept. 10, sea ice was measured at 1.6 million square miles, which is 911,000 square miles below average.
arctic, sea ice, minimum, second, lowest
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2016-19-16
Friday, 16 Sep 2016 06:19 PM
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