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July 12, 2011

Arctic Losing Itself Faster Than Imagined

Countries that set record highs in 2010 Last year was tied for the warmest on record. And 2011 is not looking much better. So naturally, the Arctic is turning into a slush pond at a pace that even scientists and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change couldn't have predicted. At the rate things are going, an ice-free Arctic may become a reality in a mere 30 years. Via The Guardian:

The area of the Arctic ocean at least 15% covered in ice is this week about 8.5m sq kilometres –- lower than the previous record low set in 2007 –- according to satellite monitoring by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. In addition, new data from the University of Washington Polar Science Centre, shows that the thickness of Arctic ice this year is also the lowest on record. In the past 10 days, the Arctic ocean has been losing as much as 150,000 square kilometres of sea a day, said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC. [...]

Global warming has been melting Arctic sea ice for the past 30 years at a rate of about 3% per decade on average. But the two new data sets suggest that, if current trends continue, a largely ice-free Arctic in summer months is likely within 30 years. That is up to 40 years earlier than was anticipated in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report.

(Image courtesy Climate Central & Weather Underground.)

-- Brian Foley

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