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The Arctic is facing a decline in sea ice that might equal the negative record of 2012

21 April 2016

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Sea ice physicists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), are anticipating that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean this summer may shrink to the record low of 2012. The scientists made this projection after evaluating current satellite data about the thickness of the ice cover. The data show that the arctic sea ice was already extraordinarily thin in the summer of 2015. Comparably little new ice formed during the past winter. Today Dr Marcel Nicolaus, expert on sea ice, has presented these findings at a press conference during the annual General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.

Predicting the summer extent of the Arctic sea ice several months in advance is one of the great challenges facing contemporary polar research. The reason: until the end of the melting season the fate of the ice is ultimately determined by the wind conditions and air and water temperatures during the summer months. Foundations are laid during the preceding winter, however. This spring, they are as disheartening as they were in the negative record year of 2012. Back then, the sea ice surface of the Arctic shrunk to a record low of 3.4 million square kilometres.

Source: Alfred Wegener Institute

Image credit: S Hendricks - Arctic sea ice in summer.

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