Its funny how many “facts” there are on this subject (kind of like studying the bible):
Arctic ice shrinks to second-lowest level ever
COMBINED NEWS SERVICES August 28, 2008 Arctic sea ice, which melts partly during each polar summer, has shrunk more this year than in any on record except for 2007, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has found.
Scientists said the data provided more ominous indications that a global warming “tipping point” in the Arctic seems to be happening before their eyes: Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is now at its second lowest level in about 30 years.
With several weeks left of the melting season, the **National Snow and Ice Data Center **reported yesterday that sea ice in the Arctic now covers about 2.03 million square miles. The lowest point since satellite measurements began in 1979 was 1.65 million square miles, measured on Sept. 16, 2007.
Declining ice as a result of warmer temperatures in the air and ocean threatens to amplify global warming because the sea is darker than ice and absorbs more sunlight. Last year, for the first time during the melt season, ships were able to travel in the Northwest Passage, a stretch of water connecting the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Canada.
For the first time in recorded human history, the Arctic is completely surrounded by open water, new satellite images reveal.
Using images from NASA, scientists at the University of Bremen in Germany have concluded that both the Northwest Passage over Canada and the Northeast Passage over Russia are now free of ice, making it possible to sail around the North Pole.
Still, Arctic sea ice is not at the lowest level on record: According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, that occurred on Sept. 21, 2005. But scientists say that the rate of disappearance – 10 percent in the last decade – is far surpassing their predictions. As my colleague Pete Spotts noted in this blog last week, scientists believe that the Arctic could be ice-free decades earlier than their initial predictions.
“No matter where we stand at the end of the melt season,” NSIDC scientist Mark Serreze told Reuters reporter Deborah Zabarenko last week, “it’s just reinforcing this notion that Arctic ice is in its death spiral.”
Those who do not believe that global warming is occurring often argue that, while Arctic sea ice is melting, ice in the Antarctic is growing. This is partly true: Ice in the eastern part of the southern continent have increased in recent years. But a paper issued by the** National Aeronautics and Space Administration** explains that this increase, counterintuitive as it may seem, is consistent with rising global temperatures:
Typically, warming of the climate leads to increased melting rates of sea ice cover and increased precipitation rates. However, in the Southern Ocean, with increased precipitation rates and deeper snow, the additional load of snow becomes so heavy that it pushes the Antarctic sea ice below sea level. This results in even more and even thicker sea ice when the snow refreezes as more ice. Therefore, the paper indicates that some climate processes, like warmer air temperatures increasing the amount of sea ice, may go against what we would normally believe would occur.