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Home* News and Stories → Arc­tic sea ice: 2013 more than 2012, but long-term nega­ti­ve trend unbro­ken

Arc­tic sea ice: 2013 more than 2012, but long-term nega­ti­ve trend unbro­ken

The area of arc­tic sea ice has been moni­to­red by satel­li­te for 34 years not, but the Euro­pean satel­li­te Cryo­sat, ope­ra­ti­ve for 3 years now, is able to mea­su­re not only area, but also the thic­k­ness of the ice, giving sci­en­tists much more pre­cise and relia­ble data to moni­tor the deve­lo­p­ment of arc­tic sea ice. Befo­re Cryo­sat, data about ice thic­k­ness had to be coll­ec­ted manu­al­ly, giving only con­trol samples with gre­at effort.

2012 remains so far the mini­mum year for arc­tic sea ice, both in terms of area and volu­me. In Octo­ber 2012, the­re were about 6,000 cubic kilo­me­t­res (km3) of sea ice in the Arc­tic, com­pared to 9,000 at the same time in 2013. This means an increase of 50 %. Most of the increase is due to an increased thic­k­ness of mul­ti-year ice, which is curr­ent­ly most­ly two year ice, by 20 % or 30 cm. The pro­por­ti­on of mul­ti year ice is, howe­ver, still signi­fi­cant­ly lower than it used to be.

The inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the­se data is that 2012 was an extre­me nega­ti­ve year, due to per­sis­tent strong winds that pushed a lot of sea ice out of the Arc­tic Oce­an and into the North Atlan­tic, whe­re it mel­ted quick­ly. The­re is no indi­ca­ti­on of a chan­ge of the long-term nega­ti­ve trend, and the Arc­tic is still expec­ted to be ice-free in sum­mer within a few deca­des – some pre­dic­tions even talk about a few years only.

In com­pa­ri­son, the sea ice volu­me of the ear­ly 1980s is esti­ma­ted near 20,000 km3, more than dou­ble com­pared to the pre­sent value.

Sea ice in the Arc­tic: more than 2012, but much less than 30 years ago.

Eis Arktis

Source: ESA



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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange