Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.
At the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in the Arctic, sea ice covered 4.76 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles), the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.
“This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below five million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), and all those occurrences have been within the past four years,” the report said.
Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, warned the Arctic ice cover was shrinking year-round, with more ice melting in the spring and summer months and less ice forming in the fall and winter.
“The Arctic, like the globe as a whole, is warming up and warming up quickly, and we’re starting to see the sea ice respond to that. Really, in all months, the sea ice cover is shrinking — there’s an overall downward trend,” Serreze told AFP.
“The extent of Arctic ice is dropping at something like 11 percent per decade — very quickly, in other words.
“Our thinking is that by 2030 or so, if you went out to the Arctic on the first of September, you probably won’t see any ice at all. It will look like a blue ocean,” he said.
The record low for Arctic sea ice extent was in 2007, when at the end of the spring and summer “melt season”, ice covered just 4.13 million square kilometers (1.595 million square miles).