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Daily Archives: 2. October 2020 − News & Stories


Record-low in sea ice cover in Sep­tem­ber

Sep­tem­ber is gene­ra­ly the months with the lowest sea ice cover in the Arc­tic: the sum­mer warmth has mel­ted a lot of ice, and the cold of the win­ter is yet to come. So is is nor­mal to expect litt­le drift ice near Spits­ber­gen in Sep­tem­ber.

BUT – what does “litt­le” drift ice mean? Even just a quick glan­ce at the long-term deve­lo­p­ment reve­als a clear trend towards less and less ice. Arc­tic sea ice is moni­to­red sin­ce 1979, and never has the­re been as litt­le ice as in Sep­tem­ber, fol­lo­wing a sum­mer that has brought Lon­gye­ar­by­en record-brea­king tem­pe­ra­tures and a hot sum­mer also else­whe­re in the Arc­tic, such as Sibe­ria, to men­ti­on just one exam­p­le.

Ice chart Spitsbergen, 1st October 2020

Ice chart of nor­t­hern Sval­bard as of 01 Octo­ber: the “cold coast” (Sval­bard) is curr­ent­ly com­ple­te­ly free of ice.
© Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te.

Accor­ding to a press release by the Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te, the month­ly tem­pe­ra­tu­re avera­ge for Sep­tem­ber for the who­le Arc­tic was 2.9 degrees abo­ve the long-term avera­ge, which is based on the refe­rence peri­od 1961-1990. When a new refe­rence peri­od will be intro­du­ced in 2021, based on the three deca­des from 1991 to 2020, the tem­pe­ra­tu­re devia­ti­ons will appear less dra­ma­tic. But this will be no reason to decla­re the cur­rent cli­ma­te chan­ge histo­ry, it will just be a dif­fe­rent per­cep­ti­on due to a new sta­tis­ti­cal refe­rence peri­od. An arte­fact, in other words.

Sea ice cover, Svalbard, 1979-2020

Chan­ges of the sea ice cover in Spits­ber­gen from 1979 to 2020.
Sep­tem­ber 2020 has yiel­ded a new all-time low.
© Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te.

Signe Aaboe, sci­en­tist at the Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te, does not doubt that the recent record values of arc­tic tem­pe­ra­tu­re and ice are due to man-made cli­ma­te chan­ge.

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