Saturday, October 13, 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Continues to Melt

2012 was another record year for the lowest amount of sea ice in the arctic during the summer, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). At its lowest point in September, sea ice covered only 3.61 million square kilometers of the Arctic Ocean. The arctic ice has been declining steadily for several decades now; coverage is currently less than half of what it was in the 1980s. If this keeps up, within several decades the arctic ice could come close to disappearing every summer. That can’t be good for polar bears…

Climatologists believe that the decline is a due global warming. Warmer air melts more ice, of course. But scientists postulate that the rapid melting is also due to warmer waters from the North Atlantic that are entering the region. In addition, warm air picks up more moisture, leading to clouds that trap even more warm air below them.

Interestingly, the ice cover over Antarctica (at the south pole) has actually increased slightly since the 1980s, according to the NSIDC. Climatologists explain this, too, as due to global warming. Specifically, as the Pacific Ocean warms up it delivers more moisture to the strong winds that blow in a circular pattern around the perennially cold Antarctic, and this leads to a greater snowfall over the Antarctic.

We’re just beginning to see the many and varied effects of global warming.

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