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Sierra Daily

Aug 27, 2012

As the Arctic Melts

Arctic ice mlenny iStock_000016060581XSmallArctic sea ice cover melted to its lowest extent on record yesterday, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, based at the University of Colorado Boulder. That breaks the previous record low observed in 2007. According to a press release by the NSIDC, “while Arctic sea ice extent varies from year to year because of changeable weather conditions, ice extent has shown a dramatic overall decline over the past thirty years. The pronounced decline in summer Arctic sea ice over the last decade is considered a strong signal of long-term climate warming.”

Said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze: "The previous record, set in 2007, occurred because of near perfect summer weather for melting ice. Apart from one big storm in early August, weather patterns this year were unremarkable. The ice is so thin and weak now, it doesn't matter how the winds blow."

And it’s not over yet. There are two or three weeks left in the melt season, so scientists expect the minimum ice extent could be even lower.

Image by iStock/Mlenny.

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

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