Arctic sea ice melts to record low

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Arctic sea ice

In a follow-up to a Greener Ideal article posted last week, scientists say critical ice in the Arctic Ocean has officially melted to a record low.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks — as summer is still not over yet.

That breaks the old record of 4.17 million sq. kilometres set in 2007.

Scientists say the figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979. Data centre scientist Ted Scambos notes the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Arctic sea ice is essentially frozen ocean water. Researchers say this ice helps to moderate temperatures lower on the globe. It is also very crucial for polar bears, where they hunt ice-associated seals and use ice corridors to move from one area to another. Also, pregnant females build their winter dens on Arctic sea ice and use it as a resting platform for their pups.

An Arctic cyclone earlier this month was said to be a contributory factor in the decline of Arctic ice.

As more of the ice cap thaws, Arctic-border countries including Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US are expected to start considering the ocean for trade. On August 18, the first icebreaker from China was the first to cut across the Arctic Ocean, highlighting Beijing’s growing interest in the region.

Greenland has also experienced record melt this year.