A Nasa satellite has documented “startling” changes in Arctic sea ice cover between 2004 and 2005. The extent of “perennial” ice – which remains all year round – declined by 14%, losing an area the size of Pakistan or Turkey.
The Arctic is now warming about twice as fast as the global average. September 2005 saw the lowest recorded area of ice cover since 1978, when satellite records became available.
This latest study, from scientists from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, measured the extent of “perennial” ice cover. From October 2004 to March 2006 they plotted a steady decline. “In previous years there is some variability, but it is much smaller and regional,” Dr Nghiem told the BBC. “However the change we see between 2004 and 2005 is enormous.”
Worrying indeed. Don’t forget ice reflects the Sun’s energy back into space; open water absorbs it. So a planet with less ice warms faster, making more ice melt and so on until climate change spirals out of control.