Arctic Temperatures Rise: Sea Ice Cover Sets Record Low For January

"It is unlikely that Carbon dioxide levels and mean temperatures can be decreased in time to prevent this loss, so restoring sea ice artificially is an imperative".

The paper's abstract states that the Arctic could be utterly devoid of summer sea ice by the year 2030.

Only last week, researchers announced that there was less Arctic sea ice in January than in any other January since records began, continuing a trend that began in October.

Factors contributing to the increasingly warm weather during the winter include the continuous climate change as well as the interactions between warm air and sea ice in the Arctic region.

Sea ice at both poles has been expected to decline as the planet heats up from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

As well as endangering many species from polar bears to walruses, seals and seabirds, it would also trigger further climate warming by removing ice that reflects solar rays back into space.

"This loss of sea ice represents one of the most severe positive feedbacks in the climate system, as sunlight that would otherwise be reflected by sea ice is absorbed by open ocean", the authors write in the journal Earth's Future. The opening of the Arctic has also led to more shipping and commercial activity in an already fragile region.

Thin ice is more susceptible to melt come spring and summer, though it doesn't guarantee that summer will also see record lows. On 12 February, there were 13.9 million square kilometres of ice, compared to the 30-year average of 15.2 million and last year's figure of 14.2 million. Such drastic changes in sea ice are a fair warning to mankind to reform its ways since the alternative is climatic chaos. The season still finished with the second lowest summer minimum on record, though.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent.

The temperatures around the globe shot up to record high levels a year ago. "It's a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic's sea ice from disappearing".

After years of standing up to the man-made global warming, the Antarctic sea ice has receded to its least yearly levels. On Monday, Antarctic sea ice dropped to an all-time record low, beating out 1997.

"No one knows for sure what will happen, as there might be a rebounding from the very large decreases previous year, or there might be a continuation of those decreases", Claire Parkinson, a NASA sea ice researcher said in an email.

Better get building those pumps.

  • Carolyn Briggs