Scientists have reported that the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has shrunk to its lowest level on record for winter. It was 1979 when the satellite records began and this year’s record low level signifies a long term climate change. On Feb. 25, the Arctic sea ice reached its maximum annual extent of just 14.54 million square kilometers and with a spring thaw it is now expected to shrink further. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said “This year’s maximum ice extent was the lowest in the satellite record, with below-average ice conditions everywhere except in the Labrador Sea and Davis Strait.”
As compared to the 1981-2010 average, the ice was 1.1 million sq kms smaller and it was also below the previous lowest maximum in 2011. Following the months of winter darkness, as the Sun returns to the Arctic the ice shrinks to a minimum in September. According to the U.N. panel of climate scientists, the long-term shrinkage of the ice is associated with global warming and they also opine that in the second half of the century, Arctic summertime sea ice could vanish.
Sebastian Gerland, an expert at the Norwegian Polar Institute commented “The majority of models point in the same direction – less ice.” The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization has reported that 2014 was the warmest year on record. About 200 nations are in favor of a deal which is to be finalized in December in Paris for slowing down global warming. Rafe Pomerance, chair of Arctic 21, a group of environmental groups remarked “This new data on sea ice loss sends a clear message to the global community that the Arctic is unraveling, warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.”