Over the past 12 months there has been one big fear lingering over the environmental community. It was a year ago that we were watching the Arctic ice disappearing at a tremendous rate, and saw it slip to its lowest levels in recorded history. Subsequently, we also saw the complete opening of the Northwest Passage for the first time in recorded history.
With the dawn of 2008’s northern summer, fears were that that minimum level of ice would once again be broken. However according to experts, no new records will be broken this year.
“Most likely there will not be a new record minimum ice year in the Arctic this September,” said Ola M. Johannessen of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in west Norway.
Mark Serreze, a senior research fellow at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), added his own thoughts. “It’s looking rather unlikely that we will beat the record sea ice minimum of 2007,” adding though that there could still be surprises.
But he went on to say that “The North Pole is likely safe for at least this year.”
At the moment, the Arctic ice is sitting at about 6 million square kilometers, about a million square kilometers bigger than at the same time last year. By September of 2007, the Arctic sea-ice had dropped to 4.13 million square kilometers, shattering the 2005 record. According to Serreze, “The basic reason that while last summer saw an ideal atmospheric pattern for melting sea ice — essentially a “perfect storm” — the pattern so far this summer has been characterized by somewhat cooler conditions.”
In a world where people are continually predicting the end of the world, or at least the end of the North Pole, this news comes at a good time to remind people that not all is lost.
Credit © Shari Gearheard, National Snow and Ice Data Center.