Friday, April 3, 2009

Arctic sea ice disappearing fast

Lately there has been number of different studies covering rapid decline of ice cover on Arctic. All these studies agree that Arctic is losing ice more rapidly than expected, and latest of these studies suggest how the areas of the Arctic covered in sea ice in summers will shrink by two-thirds within the next 30 years.

Scientists have calculated that area covered by summer sea ice will experience decline from about 2.8 million square miles normally to 620,000 square miles, this is about four-fifths the size of the continental U.S. According to data gathered from National Snow and Ice Data Center last year's summer minimum was 1.8 million square miles in September, which is second lowest only behind 2007 which had a minimum of 1.65 million square miles of ice cover. Upcoming years are very likely to produce even lower data.

There is no doubt that Arctic is rapidly losing its ice, and decline in ice cover is happening even faster than scientists have predicted. Arctic ice is reacting fast to global warming and increased temperatures, and this is trend that will have much bigger impact in years to come. Temperatures are becoming more warmer which makes impossible conditions for ice to regrowth, and therefore Arctic is losing more and more of its ice cover.

Condition at Arctic is already alarming. As researchers reported: "Due to the recent loss of sea ice, the 2005-2008 autumn central Arctic surface air temperatures were greater than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above". Scientists not so long ago expected such a temperature increase somewhere around 2070. This is difference bigger than 60 years. Does this also mean that previous calculations how Arctic will loss its ice by the end of this century were also so much wrong, and that Arctic will lose all of its ice within the next 30 years? There is really nothing left that could surprise me anymore, and our Arctic refrigerator could soon stop working.

Arctic refrigerator is term often used to describe Arctic's refrigerator's effect on our planet because the Arctic's sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting the sun's radiation back into space, as there would be less and less ice, the sun's warmth would instead be absorbed by the open water, contributing to warmer water and air temperatures. This will of course give more impact to global warming.

This study was result of joint efforts by NOAA's Climate Change Program Office, the University of Washington's Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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