Antarctic sea ice extent below average for the first time in four years
FRISCO — In a mid-month update, researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said that Arctic sea ice has dwindled to the second-lowest extent on record, with an above-average melt rate during the first half of August. The only time there was less sea ice was in 2012, which set the record for the lowest extent.
The NSIDC also reported that Antarctic sea ice extent is below the 1981 to 2010 average for the first time in nearly four years. Antarctic sea ice expanded by just 96,500 square miles between August 1 and August 17, and retreated around the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Ross Sea, and around the coast of Wilkes Land.
The ice trackers said they’re close to being able to project how low the ice extent will go this year using new models developed by research scientist Andrew Slater. The refined models correctly projected minimum sea ice extent in previous years, but the models have also been off by as much as 600,000 square miles in some years.
Based on the latest analysis, the northern sea route through the Arctic along the Russian coast appears to be open, while the Northwest Passage is still clogged with ice — although some of the remote sensing data suggests there may be an open water route along Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s historical route through the southern part of the Canadian Archipelago.
Read the full update here.