Arctic Ice Melting Rapidly

Comparison of artic ice mass between 2004 and 2005.Scientists say that the rate of ice loss in the Arctic is accelerating.

According to data from NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, between 2004 and 2005 the Arctic lost an unprecedented 14 percent of its perennial sea ice (shown in white)—some 280,000 square miles (725,000 square kilometers), or an area the size of Texas.

Perennial ice remains year-round and has a thickness of ten feet (three meters) or more. That ice was replaced with seasonal ice 1 to 7 feet (0.3 to 2.1 meters) thick (shown in pink), which is much more vulnerable to melting in the summer.

Since the 1970s summer ice in the Arctic has reduced at a rate of 6.4 to 7.8 percent per decade, the researchers write in the September 7 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. This suggests ice loss may now be occurring up to 18 times more quickly.

Link: National Geographic
Image: AGU
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