Artic sea ice is at its lowest since 2012 following a year of heatwaves and forest fires.
The worrying news was raised following a study by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) which stated that it was the second lowest minimum ice extent in the 42-year-old satellite record.
The Arctic sea ice minimum is the day in a given year when Arctic sea ice reaches its smallest extent, occurring at the end of the summer melting season, normally during September.
At the beginning of September, the ‘sharp decline’ of Artic sea ice dropped the extent below 4.0 million square kilometres (1.54m square miles); this is only the second time the ice has been measured below 4m square kilometres in all the years of record keeping.
After September 8, experts at the NSIDC said that daily melt began ‘levelling out’ and reached its seasonal minimum extent of 3.74m square kilometres.
Worryingly, the 14 lowest extents in the satellite era have all occurred in the last 14 years.
This year’s low levels have been blamed on the heat waves hitting parts of Siberia, in addition to forest fires that have ravaged the region. Apparently the forest fires would not have happened if it wasn’t for human-caused climate change.
As per MailOnline, Ed Blockley, Met Office scientific manager for polar climate, said:
This threshold has been crossed because this summer has seen several periods of very rapid sea ice loss linked, in part, to the record-breaking heatwave in Siberia.
The Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions on Earth to climate change and warming here will have consequences for the region and the planet as a whole.
One of the concerns surrounding the Arctic’s ice deteriorating is the large patches of dark water it causes. These dark waters absorb solar radiation instead of reflecting it back out of our atmosphere like ice does – this then amplifies global warming.
In addition to this, loss of sea ice threatens artic wildlife such as polar bears and seals. Tom Foreman, a polar wildlife expert and Arctic guide told The Guardian, ‘The numbers that we’re getting in terms of extent of sea ice decrease each year put us pretty much on red alert in terms of the level of worry that we have, our concern for the stability of this environment.’
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