Arctic sea ice melts to second-lowest monthly minimum on record

Last month, sea ice in the Arctic melted to the second-lowest monthly minimum it has reached in 29 years of satellite measurements. The ice reached its record monthly minimum in September 2005; scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center say the monthly record likely would have been set in September of this year if August hadn’t suddenly turned cool and stormy. NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve predicts, “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean will have no ice in September by the year 2060” — about a decade earlier than the most pessimistic previous estimates. Last year, Arctic ice was melting at a rate of 8 percent per decade; this year, it’s 8.6 percent per decade, or about 23 million square miles per year. (From 1979 to 2001, the rate was 6.5 percent per decade.) Ice reflects sunlight, keeps water from warming, affects ocean salinity, and supports polar bears. Says NSIDC scientist Mark Serreze, “As greenhouse gases continue to rise, the Arctic will continue to lose its ice. You can’t argue with the physics.” He’s obviously never met a climate-change skeptic.