Summer hiatus is over. Far North Science returns to discover the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean has shriveled like an ice cube in a pitcher of lukewarm lemonade.
The eye-in-the-sky scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center say the far north’s frozen cover — the Earth’s air conditioner — now covers the second smallest area ever recorded during the 30-year-long age of satellites.
“Will 2008 also break the standing record low, set in 2007?,” NSIDC asks in a news release.
“We will know in the next several weeks, when the melt season comes to a close. The bottom line, however, is that the strong negative trend in summertime ice extent characterizing the past decade continues.”
Sea ice typically shrinks in extent and volume during the late summer months, eaten by sun-warmed ocean water and flushed into the Atlantic by currents. But what used to be a slight peeling back of the thick, royal-blue, steel-hard continent of ice off Alaska’s north coast has transformed into a disappearing act.
The result? The coastal residents of Arctic Alaska regularly enter the stormy fall with a vast fetch of ocean at their backs.