The area of ice in the Arctic Ocean has thawed to a record low, surpassing the previous 2007 minimum in a sign of climate change transforming the region, according to some scientific estimates.
“We reached the minimum ice area today [Thursday]. It has never been measured less than right now,” said Ola Johannessen, founding director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway.
“It is just below the 2007 minimum,” he added.
The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), widely viewed as the main authority on sea ice, has projected that the 2007 minimum extent is set to be breached next week. The summer thaw usually continues well into next month.
Other scientists monitoring the ice interpret satellite data in slightly differing ways.
An ice chart compiled by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) showed the ice extent had also just shrunk a fraction past the 2007 minimum. The DMI said it would defer to the NSIDC to judge when a record had been set.
Ice has been shrinking steadily in recent decades in the Arctic, threatening the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and wildlife. It is also helping to open an area rich in oil and gas and bringing the promise of new, shorter shipping routes.
“This is due to climate change,” DMI ice service head Nicolai Kliem said of the long-term decline in summer ice. Scientists project that summer sea ice could vanish completely in coming decades.
The retreat of the ice may be self-reinforcing. Ice reflects sunlight back into space and as it shrinks it exposes dark water that absorbs more heat, accelerating thawing.
Johannessen stressed his measurement was of the “area” of ice, now less than 4 million square kilometers, omitting the open water between ice floes.
The NSIDC prefers a bigger “extent,” including such gaps, on the grounds that pools of meltwater that form on sea ice are hard to distinguish from open ocean.
Kliem said the ice was becoming more prone to melt because there was less of the hard, resilient ice that endures more than one year. The ice usually reaches a minimum in September before forming again as winter approaches and reaching a maximum in March.
“We had quite a big ice cover in March 2012, above average. But because there is little long-term ice it melts more quickly in summer,” he said.
In a sign of widening interest in the polar region as a short-cut shipping route between the Pacific and the Atlantic, Beijing sent an icebreaker across the Arctic this summer to Iceland — the first Chinese vessel to cross the Arctic Ocean.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete