Arctic cap on course for record melt

2012-08-22 11:50
The WWF used this balloon at the Rio climate conference to get their message across. (WWF)

The WWF used this balloon at the Rio climate conference to get their message across. (WWF)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

VIDEO: Climate and ocean link

2012-08-17 08:35

Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the European Environment Agency discusses the connection between climate and ocean in this YouTube video.WATCH

kalahari.com

  • Climate Change
    Read more about the environmental changes and challenges the world faces. Now R261.00
    buy now

Washington - The Arctic ice cap is melting at a startlingly rapid rate and may shrink to its smallest-ever level within weeks as the planet's temperatures rise, US scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder said that the summer ice in the Arctic was already nearing its lowest level recorded, even though the summer melt season is not yet over.

"The numbers are coming in and we are looking at them with a sense of amazement," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre at the university.

"If the melt were to just suddenly stop today, we would be at the third lowest in the satellite record. We've still got another two weeks of melt to go, so I think we're very likely to set a new record," he said.

The previous record was set in 2007 when the ice cap shrunk to 4.25 million square kilometres, stunning scientists who had not forecast such a drastic melt so soon.

Global warming

The Colorado-based centre said that one potential factor could be an Arctic cyclone earlier this month. However, Serreze played down the effects of the cyclone and said that this year's melt was all the more remarkable because of the lack of special weather factors seen in 2007.

Serreze said that the extensive melt was in line with the effects of global warming, with the ice being hit by a double whammy of rising temperatures in the atmosphere and warmer oceans.

"The ice now is so thin in the spring just because of the general pattern of warming that large parts of the pack ice just can't survive the summer melt season anymore," he said.

Russia's Roshydromet environmental agency also reported earlier this month that the Arctic melt was reaching record levels. Several studies have predicted that the cap in the summer could melt completely in coming decades.

The thaw in the Arctic is rapidly transforming the geopolitics of the region, with the long forbidding ocean looking more attractive to the shipping and energy industries.

Five nations surround the Arctic Ocean - Russia, which has about half of the coastline, along with Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US - but the route could see a growing number of commercial players.

The first ship from China - the Xuelong, or Snow Dragon - recently sailed from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean, cutting the distance by more than 40%.

Severe storms

Egill Thor Nielsson, an Icelandic scientist who participated in the expedition, said last week in Reykjavik that he expected China to be increasingly interested in the route as it was relatively easy to sail.

But the rapid melt affects local people's lifestyles and scientists warn of serious consequences for the rest of the planet. The Arctic ice cap serves a vital function by reflecting light and hence keeping the earth cool.

Serreze said it was possible that the rapid melt was a factor in severe storms witnessed in recent years in the US and elsewhere as it changed the nature of the planet's temperature gradients.

The planet has charted a slew of record temperatures in recent years. In the continental US, July was the hottest ever recorded with temperatures 1.8°C higher than the average in the 20th century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Most scientists believe that carbon emissions from industry cause global warming. Efforts to control the gases have encountered resistance in a number of countries, with some lawmakers in the US questioning the science.

Read more on:    climate change
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
15 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Bellville - 09:57 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Durban Road exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 09:21 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    Earlier ACCIDENT before Hospital Bend has been moved to the side of the carriageway - HEAVY DELAYS from Duinefontein Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.