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Arctic ice lowest for 30 years
Sunday September 18, 2011 - Email this article to a friend

The ice pack in the Arctic this summer has been at its second lowest level since satellites began measuring it. It could be ice free in the summer in 20 years if the current rate of melt continues according to scientists.

That is the grimmest prediction from the US scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, NSIDC, based in Colorado.

Last month the ice pack stood at 1,67 million square miles. The only other time it was smaller was in 2007. It is though a preliminary figure.

We have already reported on some of the monthly figures this summer on PlanetSKI and the perhaps more obvious, but less scientific, evidence when a team of British rowers managed to row to The North Pole through the melting summer ice pack.

However we have also reported on evidence that any fears about a tipping point where the ice disappears may be unfounded according to historical data.

"Every summer that we see a very low ice extent in September sets us up for a similar situation the following year," said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze to US media. "The Arctic sea ice cover is so thin now compared to 30 years ago that it just can't take a hit anymore. This overall pattern of thinning ice in the Arctic in recent decades is really starting to catch up with us."

The ice in the arctic also plays a critical role in regulating Earth's temperature by reflecting sunlight.

The melting summer ice pack is half the size than it was four decades ago.

Satellite imageExtent of ice for how much longer?  c/o NSIDC

















Well below averageWell below average














In a separate development The Times Atlas of the World has been corrected after it said it had to re-draw Greenland due to the melting of the ice caused by climate change.

The authors had claimed that 15% of Greenland's former ice-covered land was now "green and ice-free".

However researchers from the Scott Polar Research Institute say the figures are incorrect and the ice has not reduced by so much.

For more details see this story on the BBC.

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