Arctic sea ice has melted by almost 1.6 million square miles this year, tying 2007 for the 2nd lowest level on record.
Sea ice extent was measured at 1.6 million square miles on Sept. 10. That’s 911,000 square miles below the average, according to data by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.
In 2012, sea ice was at its lowest point in September covering only 1.31 million square miles of Arctic.
“It was a stormy, cloudy and fairly cool summer,” said ice center director Dr. Mark Serreze. “Historically, such weather conditions slow down the summer ice loss, but we still got down to essentially a tie for second lowest in the satellite record.”
“We’ve always known that the Arctic is going to be the early warning system for climate change,” said Dr. Serreze. “What we’ve seen this year is reinforcing that.”
Satellites began monitoring sea ice in 1978 and 2016 has tied with 2007 in terms of seasonal ice-mass reduction.
The amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic has been steadily shrinking over the past few decades, due to man-made global warming, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“It is difficult to predict how Arctic ecosystems will respond to decreasing sea ice extent, but we are seeing more species moving in to take advantage of warming Arctic waters, and specialized Arctic species such as polar bears showing signs of stress in some regions,” said Melanie Lancaster of the World Wildlife Fund. “Conservation action to preserve the Arctic is urgently needed to keep up with these rapid changes.”
Scientists fear the effects of the sea ice melt could melt could change the jet stream, which would affect the weather further south, especially in winter.