Arctic Sea Ice In 2016 Hits Second-Lowest Level In Recorded History

The Arctic's ice cover shrank to its minimum level on Sept. 10, making it the second lowest level in recorded history.

In a report released by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Artic ice extent hit 1.60 million square miles, which is statistically tied at second lowest with the one the agency recorded in 2007.

"It was a stormy, cloudy, and fairly cool summer," said Mark Serreze, NSIDC director.

"Historically, such weather conditions slow down the summer ice loss, but we still got down to essentially a tie for second lowest in the satellite record," he shared. He added that the data suggests that in the next few years and with increasing temperatures that are expected to happen, there will be "very dramatic further losses."

Despite this, the recorded lowest minimum is still far larger than the data recorded on Sept. 10. In fact, it was in 2012 when the ice extent has hit 1.31 million square miles. However, scientists said that though the recorded ice cover extent this year is better than in 2012, it does not change the fact that the ice sheets are rapidly retreating.

Ice sheets in the Arctic sea are very crucial in maintaining the Earth's temperature, CNN reports. These also contribute to the circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean.

Arctic sea ice keeps the polar regions cool and at the same time, help control and moderate global climate. Over the past thirty years, scientists have seen the dramatic decline of the Arctic sea ice. This predicament may accelerate the rate at which global temperatures increase and may influence climate change patterns.

"Sea ice has a great ability to reflect a lot of solar radiation back into space... we still have some sea ice (but) to say that it is where it used to be is saying you can serve a cup of tea in a broken cup," said Dr. Jan Lieser, a marine glaciologist at the Australia Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center. He added that if there is less sea ice, oceans will become warmer. 

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