Arctic ice decline sets June record

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 July 2010

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre reported yesterday (6 July 2010) that “in June, ice extent declined by 88,000 kilometres (34,000 square miles) per day, more than 50% greater than the average rate of 53,000 kilometres (20,000 square miles) per day. This rate of decline is the fastest measured for June.”  The average sea ice extent was the lowest for any June in the satellite record, which extends back to 1979.  The NSIDC reports in Rapid ice loss continues through June that the “linear rate of monthly decline for June over the 1979 to 2010 period is now 3.5% per decade.”

To put the situation in perspective:

  • The average Arctic Sea Ice extent was 1.29 million square kilometres (498,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.  That departure from average is equivalent to the areas of California, Texas and Florida combined.
  • The daily decline in sea ice extent (averaging 88,000 kilometres or 34,000 square miles per day) was a daily decline greater than the area of South Carolina.

The NSIDC says that “weather conditions, atmospheric patterns, and cloud cover over the next month will play a major role in determining whether the 2010 sea ice decline tracks at a level similar to 2007,” the year when Arctic sea ice dropped to its lowest ever annual minimum extent.  The centre notes that an atmospheric pattern called the “summer Arctic dipole anomaly” has established itself over the region and favours winds that accelerate the decline in sea ice. The same pattern in 2007 was partly responsible for the record sea ice minimum observed in September of that year.

By: Nick Sundt
Source: WWF Climate Blog

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