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Arctic sea ice near record low in January

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January sea ice extent has been dropping about 3 percent per decade, according to the NSIDC.

Northern hemisphere snow cover above average in December and January

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arctic sea ice remained well below average during January, about 400,000 miles below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month and the sixth-lowest during the satellite record. The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest January extents in the satellite record.

According to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, January sea ice extent has been decreasing at abou 3.2 percent per decade. The largest areas of open water were around the Barents Sea and near Svalbard, northeast of Greenland. Sea ice extent was also below average along the east coast of Greenland. Continue reading

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Climate: Seasonal Arctic ice cap meltdown begins

 Arctic sea ice starting melting quickly in late April

Sea ice extent in Antarctica has been above average during the Austral summer.

Antarctica. IMAGE COURTESY NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After staying near average levels during much of April, the Arctic sea ice extent started a rapid decline late in the month, marked by the meltdown of freshly formed thin ice that can’t persist from year to year.

The linear rate of decline for April ice extent over the satellite record is 2.6 percent per decade.

For the month, the ice extent averaged 5.69 million square miles. Because of the very slow rate of ice loss through the last half of March and the first three weeks of April, ice extent averaged for April ranked close to average out of 34 years of satellite data, according to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Continue reading

February Arctic sea ice extent below average

Despite rapid monthly growth, Arctic ice extent continues long-term decline

Arctic sea ice grew at an above-average pace in February, 2012.

Monthly February ice extent for 1979 to 2012 shows a decline of 3 percen per decade. GRAPHIC COURTESY NSIDC.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice extent grew at a faster than average rate, and spiked in late February, but despite spreading farther than normal on the Pacific side of the Arctic, the overall extent was lower than average. Thick multi-year ice continues to melt quickly, according to NASA researchers.

Overall, the Arctic gained 369,000 square miles of ice during the month. This was 188,000 square miles more than the average ice growth for February 1979 to 2000.

For the month, the ice extent averaged 5.62 million square miles, about 409,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average extent, making it the fifth-lowest February ice extent in the satellite data record, according to the monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice changes affecting plankton blooms

Changes could have huge impacts on ocean food chains, global carbon cycle

Ice edge blooms often follow retreating ice, as shown here on July 5, 2007, south of Wrangel Island in the eastern Chukchi Sea. Satellite data captured by the NASA MODIS-Aqua sensor, processed by Mati Kahru.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Changes in the Arctic ice pack are starting to have an effect on the timing of the annual phytoplankton bloom, a critical event in the marine food chain and in the global carbon cycle.

By studying satellite data, scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, along with colleagues in Portugal and Mexico, discovered that the spring bloom is coming up to 50 days earlier in some areas.

“The spring bloom provides a major source of food for zooplankton, fish and bottom-dwelling animals,” said Mati Kahru, lead author of the study and a research oceanographer in the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps. “The advancement of the bloom time may have consequences for the Arctic ecosystem.” Continue reading

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