Arctic Sea ice reaches second lowest recorded level

By Kelly Rondeau

The numbers are in from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and declining ice thickness is at a hazardous level; observed to be the second-lowest coverage on record, scientists said this week.

According to the NSIDC, on September 12, 2008, the sea ice extent dropped to 1.74 million square miles (4.52 million square kilometers) — or a little less than half the area of the United States. This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as sea ice has now begun its annual cycle of growth in response to autumn cooling.

Vanishing Sea Ice

By Barbara Kessler

Satellite pictures of the Arctic suggest that this year’s summer melt likely will be worse than last year’s, providing a dramatic demonstration of how global warming can snowball — no pun intended.

As the ice melts back farther and farther each summer, it loses its ability to reflect heat from the earth, becoming a contributor to, as well as a victim of, global warming. In addition, as the permafrost of the Arctic regions warms, it releases stored carbon, adding to greenhouse gases, and furthering the escalation of warming temperatures, scientists say. All this bad news, unfortunately doesn’t have any quick fixes, but will continue escalating until and unless global warming is stalled or reduced.