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2011: Headed for Record Arctic Melt?

July 21, 2011 Comments off

ouramazingplanet

arctic-sea-ice-satellite-110720.jpgJuly 11, 2011: Arctic sea ice, seen by satellite. Credit: NASA.

This year could be well on its way toward earning a dubious spot in the record books.

Arctic sea ice has melted away with astonishing speed in the first half of July, at an average rate of about 46,000 square miles (120,000 square kilometers) per day, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo.

That’s equivalent to an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania melting into the sea every 24 hours.

“That’s relatively fast,” said Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the NSIDC.

Already, sea ice extent — how far ice extends across the ocean — this year is below the extent for the same time in 2007, a year which, in September, saw the lowest sea ice coverage ever recorded.

As of July 17 this year, sea ice covered 2.92 million square miles (7.56 million square kilometers) of the frigid Arctic Ocean. That may sound like a lot, but it’s 865,000 square miles (2.24 million square kilometers) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

However, Stroeve said, much of what Read more…