Loss of Arctic ice much worse than previously believed, researchers say

By on March 17, 2015
Ice loss in the Arctic (Credit: Ben Holt, Sr., NASA)

Ice loss in the Arctic (Credit: Ben Holt, Sr., NASA)

Scientists agree Arctic ice has been thinning for years. But until climate researchers from the University of Washington and elsewhere gathered all the data together into a single collection, it was not clear how dire the situation actually is, according to a recent press release from the university.

The data, which included under-ice submarine data as well as airplane and satellite data, indicated an alarming rate of thinning ice. Arctic ice has decreased by 65 percent since 1975. Furthermore, in September, when the ice is at its seasonal lowest, the decrease is even greater, showing an 85 percent decrease.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the effort to gather all the available data, scattered in many databases, into the single aggregated data collection called the Unified Sea Ice Thickness Climate Data Record. Together the data showed the average decline in sea ice over 37 years, including a leveling off which appeared in the 1990s. Although the past couple years have shown a slight increase in sea ice, the increase in no way reflects a real reversal in trend. Scientist warn that the devastating loss of sea ice is not likely to stop in the future.

Top image: Ice loss in the Arctic (Credit: Ben Holt, Sr. / NASA)

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