According to the new data,the amount of ice coverage was also the lowest in a satellite record dating back to 1979. The surface of ice which covers the sea around the Arctic grows through the winter before melting as the summer months near. Scientists from the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center say that this winter, the maximum level of ice was reached earlier than usual, on February 25.
Even though an increase of winter sea ice growth is still possible, the researchers explained that that a more detailed set of measurements will be published in early April.
“It appears unlikely that there could be sufficient growth to surpass the extent reached on February 25,” the scientists said in a statement.
In some researchers’ opinion, the new figures are a new sign of the impact of climate change.
“This is further evidence that global warming has not stopped despite the misleading and inaccurate claims of climate change sceptics,” is the opinion of Bob Ward, policy and communications director at London’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
“This new data on sea ice loss sends a clear message to the global community that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet”, said Rafe Pomerance, chairman of the Arctic 21, an organization which studies climate change in the Arctic.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center said the maximum ice extent in the Arctic in February 2015 was 425,000 square miles. It is a new record low, under the 1981 to 2010 average of 6.04m square miles. The new data is just over 50,000 square miles below the previous lowest maximum which was reached in 2011.
The reason for this shrinking trend is the unusual configuration of the jet stream and other recent weather patterns. Temperatures in eastern Arctic were several degrees Celsius above average in the first two weeks of March, while the Barents Sea registered temperatures with 8 to 10 degrees Celsius above average.
The weather forecasts for the upcoming week suggest that warmer than average conditions over the eastern Arctic will continue. Colder conditions are expected over the Bering Sea, and this could lead to the forming of some new ice.
Image Source: Earth Times