2011 a Historic New Arctic Sea Ice Minimum

Researchers from the University of Bremen have announced that 2011’s Arctic Sea Ice Minimum is the smallest in recorded history, coming in under the previous lowest Minimum in September of 2007.

The Arctic sea ice extent reached its minimum on September 8 of this year, at 4.24 million square kilometres. This, compared to the 4.267 million square kilometres reached back in 2007, and down from 15 million square kilometres during the peak of winter.

“The decline of summer ice is already 50 percent since 1972. For small organisms that live on the underside of the ice and also the starting point of the human food chain are also for us, leaving less and less habitat,” said Dr George Heygster.

Satellite observations of the Arctic sea ice extent began back in 1972, and so far this year the current minimum sits 27,000 square kilometres below the 2007 number, 0.6 percent, and could drop even lower in the coming weeks.

This news does not come as much of a surprise to many scientists who had predicted that this year’s sea ice minimum could be less than the previous on record. The ice was already thin and not reaching as far as it had during previous winters, and was setting up for just such an occurrence.

The public are able to watch the record of sea ice extent daily thanks to the University of Bremen who provide daily updates of sea ice concentrations.

Source: University of Bremen

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