See how quickly the ice is melting in the Arctic

Compare the differences in pictures taken in 2008 and 2012: Arctic sea ice could be dwindling to a new record low level after almost equalling 2007’s one at the end of last year.

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These satellite pictures show the state of Arctic ice in July 2012 (to the right) compared with 2008’s all-time low (to the left). The Arctic ice could reach a new low this autumn. Foto: Nansensenteret and National snow ans Ice Data Center.

  • Turid Furdal
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  1. This is how the Arctic sea ice looked on 23 July this year: At 7.32 million km2. This year’s melting is far higher than average, the National Snow and Ice Data Center states. The orane line shows the July’s median value in the years between 1979 and 2000. Foto: The National Snow and Ice Data Center

  2. A satellite image of the Arctic in 2008, the year following the lowest registered level ever. Foto: Nersc

The area covered bysea ice in the Arctic reaches it smallest in the middle of September. The icethen stops melting and begins to freeze again.

“There’s very littleice in the northern Barents Sea this year, and the same applies to Siberia andthe coast of Russia,” says director and climate researcher Peter M. Haugan atthe Nansen Center in Bergen.

He notes that thelevel of sea ice in the Arctic has been low for several summers, and the ice isreceding a long way, almost as far back as 2007’s record.

Could be a new record year

This trend is moreimportant than what happens as just one single occurrence, according to MrHaugan. He does not wish to speculate as to whether a new record will be set inthe Arctic in September.

Peter M. Haugan

“The conditions forfacilitating a new record are right this year, but a lot can happen in a short spaceof time. It wouldn’t take more than an unusual wind direction for a period. It’sdifficult to predict one to two months ahead. It’s easier to say what willhappen in10 years.” What do you think will happen in the next 10 years?

“It’s increasinglylikely that we will get even more ice melting in the Arctic. Experts disagreeon whether this is a trend or a leap to a new normal state, and we can now clearlysee that this is becoming a normal state in the Arctic.”

“We don’t know thereason for reduced ice in the Arctic in recent years, but it’s becoming moreand more probable that this has been caused by humans,” Mr Haugan concludes.

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