Climate change: Arctic lost nearly 95% of its old ice since 1984

Updated on Nov 29, 2016 03:18 PM IST
According scientists at NASA, the area covered by Arctic sea ice at least four years old has decreased from 1,860,000 square kilometres in September 1984 to 110,000 square kilometres in September 2016.
Ice floats in the Arctic near Svalbard, Norway. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.3% per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.(AP File Photo)
Ice floats in the Arctic near Svalbard, Norway. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.3% per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.(AP File Photo)
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

The Arctic has lost almost 95% of its older ice cover since 1984, according to NASA.

The ice in the Arctic grows and shrinks through the year, and is made up of seasonal and perennial ice. The perennial sea ice that has built up over the years tends to be thicker and less vulnerable to melting away in summer than newer seasonal ice.

According scientists at NASA, the area covered by Arctic sea ice at least four years old has decreased from 1,860,000 square kilometres in September 1984 to 110,000 square kilometres in September 2016.

Read | ‘Arctic may become ice-free for first time in 100,000 years’

Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum each September. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.3% per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.

In the visualisation below from NASA of data from buoys, weather stations, satellites and computer models, the age of the ice is indicated by shades ranging from blue-gray for the youngest ice to white for the oldest.

The rising temperatures in the Arctic are affecting permafrost and snow cover as well as the amount of sea ice, which this year was the second-lowest on record.

Ketil Isaksen of the Norwegian Meterological Institute said the average temperature in Longyearbyen, the main settlement in Svalbard, Norway, is expected to be around 0 degree Celsius with a little over a month left of the year.

“This is a little bit shocking,” Isaksen said. “If you had asked me five or 10 years ago, I could not have imagined such numbers in 2016.”

This graph shows the average monthly Arctic sea ice extent in September since 1979, derived from satellite observations.

The normal yearly average in Svalbard, an island group midway between the North Pole and continental Norway, is minus 6.7 C and the warmest year until now was 2006, when the average temperature in Svalbard was minus 1.8 C, Isaksen said.

“Svalbard is a very good spot to show what’s happening in the Arctic at the moment,” he said, noting that each of the past 73 months has been warmer than average.

Map of the Arctic showing the extent of sea ice at its minimum level in September 2016 compared with median cover since 1981. (AFP)
Map of the Arctic showing the extent of sea ice at its minimum level in September 2016 compared with median cover since 1981. (AFP)

Also Read | Another year, another record: 2016 set to be the hottest year, says UN

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shashank Kumar is a senior content producer at Hindustan Times. In addition to handling the online desk, he writes breaking stories for the HT website. He earlier was involved with an international daily newspaper.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage in Western New York state as he was going to deliver his lecture. 

    Salman Rushdie and supporters are to blame for attack: Iran

    Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday that no one had the right to level accusations against Tehran over Friday's attack on Salman Rushdie, and only he and his supporters were worthy of reproach and condemnation for denigrating the world's Muslims. In Iran's first official reaction to Friday's attack, ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said freedom of speech did not justify Rushdie's insults against religion. Writers and politicians around the world have condemned the attack.

  • 'Extreme healt belt' to cover middle of US by 2053: Report

    'Extreme heat belt' to cover middle of US by 2053: Report

    An area of intensely warm weather -- a so-called "extreme heat belt" -- with at least one day per year in which the heat index hits 125 Fahrenheit (52C), is expected to cover a US region home to more than 100 million people by the year 2053, according to a new study.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

    Ukraine calls on world to 'show strength' after shelling near nuclear plant

    Ukraine called for new sanctions on Russia and warned about the consequences of catastrophe at Europe's biggest nuclear plant, where fresh shelling nearby has renewed a blame game between both sides. Ukrainian and Russian-installed officials have traded accusations over who is responsible for attacks close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. In Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's late Monday-night address, Zelenskiy sought a tougher world response on the Kremlin. Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

    Twitter has to give Elon Musk only one bot checker's data, judge rules

    Twitter Inc. was ordered to hand over files from its former consumer product head to Elon Musk on spam and bot accounts the billionaire has cited in seeking to abandon his $44 billion purchase of the company. Far Twitter has given up the names of “records custodians,” who aren't as familiar with the data in question. He was pushing Twitter into new product areas, like live audio spaces and newsletters, before he was ousted.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Putin says Russia ready to offer its most advanced weapons to country's allies

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to expand military cooperation with the country's allies, noting that Moscow is ready to offer them its most advanced weapons. Putin hailed the Russian military's action in Ukraine, which has triggered massive Western sanctions, and thanked Moscow's allies for their support. “We highly appreciate that we have many allies, partners and people who share our thinking on various continents,” he said.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now