Maximum ice level in Arctic reaches record low level this year

The sea ice in the Arctic recorded a new record low this year. A powerful El Nino in the Pacific brought mild temperatures to parts of North America but scientists discount its effect on the Arctic.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the US said: "I've never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arcttc. The heat was relentless." The Center declare that the maximum extent of ice before it begins its spring melt was 20,000 square kilometers less than the previous year. This is the lowest since monitoring began. Last year had also set a record. The ice cover is down to a 14.42 million square kilometers maximum.
Temperatures from December to February over the Arctic Ocean varied from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius above average in almost every region This record follows on record high average global temperatures in January and February. While there was a strong El Nino, scientists point out that previous El Nino's did not produce warm temperatures such as were experienced in the north this year. Some scientists think the high temperatures are related to changes in southern weather and a "wobbly" jet stream. The arctic sea ice has been declining at the rate of about 12 percent each decade since monitoring began in the late seventies. The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the world. It has warmed about four degrees since the climate change began.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) with headquarters at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The research is partially supported by NASA. The figures from the NSIDC site on the average coverage of sea ice also set records:Sea ice extent over the Arctic Ocean averaged 14.52 million square kilometers (5.607 million square miles) on March 24, beating last year’s record low of 14.54 million square kilometers (5.612 million square miles) on February 25. Unlike last year, the peak was later than average in the 37-year satellite record, setting up a shorter than average ice melt season for the coming spring and summer.
There were a few areas such as Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, and the Labrador Sea where ice was not below average. In spite of the record low ice levels some studies suggest that reduced flow of warm Atlantic waters could actually lead to a recovery of all the Arctic sea ice in the near future. However, some scientist think that during the summer months the Arctic will be ice-free within the next 20 to 35 years. Dr. John Walsh, chief scientist at the International Arctic Research Centre said: “Sometime in the 2030s or 2040s time frame, at least for a few days, you won’t have ice out there in the dead of summer.” NSIDC will release a full analysis of the winter season when March data is in.


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