Arctic sea ice levels near record low

Mar 28, 2016, 6:44 PM EDT
On July 12, 2011, crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy retrieved a canister dropped by parachute from a C-130, which brought supplies for some mid-mission fixes. (Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr)
On July 12, 2011, crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy retrieved a canister dropped by parachute from a C-130, which brought supplies for some mid-mission fixes. (Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr)
It’s been no secret that ice levels at both poles of the Earth are declining as a result of global warming, but scientists have issued yet another disturbing alert regarding the Arctic, specifically. Arctic sea ice coverage peaked at 5.607 million square miles this year, a wintertime low since NASA satellites began monitoring sea ice extent in 1979. CBS News reports:
 
NASA has been collecting data on Arctic sea-ice extent (a term that refers to area and volume) since the late 1970s. Last year's maximum was the fourth-lowest on record, and 2016's sea ice extent is also among the lowest that scientists have seen in about 40 years.
 
The Arctic's sea-ice extent varies from year to year, but overall, researchers have seen a worrisome downward trend over time.
 
 
But even among a streak of exceptionally hot years that are clearly indicative of an underlying trend, 2016 has been astonishing. Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing around New Years—more than fifty degrees Fahrenheit higher than they should have been. Throughout January and February, the planet roasted, but especially the Arctic, where temperatures averaged nearly 11 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
 
 
The difference between the two years, 2015 and 2016, is just 13,000 square kilometers or 5,000 square miles, according to NSIDC. That may not seem like much, but for records, still represents “two in a row,” says Julienne Stroeve, a senior research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
 
In calling the record, the center nonetheless noted, “A late season surge in ice growth is still possible.”
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