The Arctic Ocean has given up tens of thousands more square kilometers of ice in a relentless summer of melt, with scientists watching through satellite eyes for a possible record low polar ice cap.
From the barren Arctic shore of this village in Canada’s far northwest, 2,414 kilometers north of Seattle, veteran observer Eddie Gruben has seen the summer ice retreating more each decade as the world has warmed. By this weekend the ice edge lay some 128 kilometers at sea.
“Forty years ago, it was 64 kilometers out,” said Gruben, 89, patriarch of a local contracting business.
Global average temperatures rose 0.6 degree Celsius in the past century, but Arctic temperatures rose twice as much or even faster, almost certainly in good part because of manmade greenhouse gases, researchers say.
In late July the mercury soared to almost 30 degrees Celsius in this settlement of 900 Inuvialuit, the name for western Arctic Eskimos.
“The water was really warm,” Gruben said. “The kids were swimming in the ocean.”
As of Thursday, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center reported, the polar ice cap extended over 6.75 million square kilometers after having shrunk an average 106,000 square kilometers a day in July -- equivalent to one Indiana or three Belgiums daily.