Climate: Arctic sea-ice extent lags below average

Despite rapid October growth, ice remains near record-low levels

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice grew about 40 percent faster than average in October, but after an extensive summer melt-off, large areas of open water remained in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, leading to unusually warm conditions along parts of the Siberian coast.

At the end of October, the ice extent was the second-lowest in the era of satellite records, trailing only the record low year of 2007. During that span, average October sea ice extent has declined about 6.6 percent each year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic sea ice extent is on a long-term downward trend.

Sea ice extent averaged for October was about 846,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2009 average, but well above the record low extent measured in 2007. Areas with below average sea ice extent included the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, while the extent was close to average in the East Greenland Sea.

A sustained pattern of warmer-than-average temperatures over the Arctic ocean appeared again this October, with air temperatures above most of the Arctic Ocean ranging from 1.8 degrees to 7.2 degrees above average, measured at about 3,000 feet above sea level.

By contrast, temperatures were as much as 5.4 degrees above average over the eastern Canadian Arctic and Greenland.

In its monthly update, the NSIDC reference a recent study by the University of Colorado Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research showing that the declining sea ice has led to increasing erosion rates along the coast of the Beaufort Sea over the past fifty years.

From 1979 to 1999, the average erosion rate was 27.9 feet per year. The average rate during the period between 2000 to 2007 was 44.6 feet per year, increasing even more the past two years to average 47.2 feet per year.


One thought on “Climate: Arctic sea-ice extent lags below average

  1. What is missing in this conversation that I see, is with the continual shrinking of the Ice mass, it opens the way for the fabled “Northwest Passage” to become a reality, for the shipping industry moving goods between Europe & Asia. Also, the pollution that accompanies said shipping, whether by hitch-hiking or intentional. It seems that humans have a built in destructive bent where ever pristine environmental areas are concerned, at least when business interests are put ahead of everything else. The Arctic Ocean should be put off limits to all commercial exploitation, from all countries, no exceptions.

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