Arctic Ocean sea ice is headed for a record low, expected to reach the low sometime next week, then keep shrinking, according to a scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.
“A new daily record … would be likely by the end of August. Chances are it will cross the previous record while we’re still in sea ice retreat.”
Sea ice in the Arctic is important because the area is a potent global weather-maker and is sometimes given the name of the world’s air conditioner. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic this year has suggested a possible opening of the fabled Northwest Passage north of Canada and Alaska and the Northern Sea Route by Europe and Siberia.
Scambos is predicting that the sea ice will retreat to less than 1.5 million square miles, an unforeseen low. This year’s record low will shatter the previous low of 1.66 million square miles, which was set in 2007.
Bloomberg notes that Walt Meier, a research scientist at the NSIDC, stated:
“Unless the melting really, really slows down, there’s a very real chance of a record. In the last week or so it’s dropped precipitously. There’s definitely a chance it’ll dip below 4 million square kilometers.”
NASA’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, also weighed in on the record low arctic ice measurement, saying that:
“Our greatest concern is that loss of Arctic sea ice creates a grave threat of passing two other tipping points — the potential instability of the Greenland ice sheet and methane hydrates. These latter two tipping points would have consequences that are practically irreversible on time scales of relevance to humanity.”
Measurements across Greenland’s ice sheet via satellite on July 12 showed surface melt across 97 percent of the ice sheet, the largest area in over 30 years of observations, prompting concerns that the melting Arctic ice,and ice melt in other places could be even worse next year.