Peter West, National Sicence FoundationThe sea ice of the Arctic will melt further and faster than at any time since records began nearly 30 years ago, according to the latest data collected by a satellite survey of the polar region.

Scientists warned yesterday that the sea ice is already approaching the record minimum set in September 2005, even with a further month of the summer melting season still remaining.

This year has seen one of the most rapid rates of sea ice melting, which began in spring after one of the most disappointing winters for ice formation. “Unless something unusual happens we’re definitely on track for a record loss of sea ice. We’re on track to shatter all records,” said Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver.

“The rates of sea ice loss this year are really rather remarkable. Some of the daily rates of loss are the biggest we’ve ever seen. Things are happening really fast,” Dr Serreze said.

“Unless conditions change in an unprecedented way, the Arctic will continue to lose ice for at least another month,” said the National Snow and Ice Data Centre. “At this point in the 2007 melt season, this much is already clear: the Arctic is experiencing an unprecedented sixth consecutive year with much less sea ice than normal, and it looks like this year’s sea ice-melt season may herald a new and steeper rate of decline,” it added.