Arctic sea ice levels plummet

Posted on September, 14 2011

Extreme melting has pushed arctic sea ice levels to record lows, according to polar scientists. The extent of arctic sea ice is now at the lowest it has ever been in recorded history.
An analysis by the University of Bremen has show that extreme melting has pushed arctic sea ice levels to the lowest it has ever been in recorded history - and things could get worse.

The record of 4.24 square kilometres could be pushed even further. There is a close link between arctic August air temperatures and sea ice melting. Temperatures this August were among the highest recorded, higher than the previous record year for arctic sea ice melting, 2007.

A global problem

“We see the symptoms of change in walruses being forced onshore, and with polar bears undertaking epic swims between ice and land”, said WWF arctic climate expert Martin Sommerkorn. “But this is not just a problem for polar bears, this is a global problem for people. The dramatic loss of this amount of sea ice in the Arctic is likely to further disrupt world weather systems. The impacts don’t stay in the Arctic; they’re felt globally in droughts, floods, and extreme weather.”

The latest record in sea ice loss is not just an isolated event, but is the latest peak in a pattern of increasingly severe ice loss. More than half of the lowest ice years in the Arctic have been recorded in the past 10 years, leading scientists to predict that the summer sea ice could be effectively gone within a generation.

While it is likely not possible to reverse the trend of arctic ice loss in the short term, there is hope that warming can be contained in the long term.


Global Arctic Programme

Since 1992, WWF's Global Arctic Programme has been working across the Arctic to combat the threat of climate change and preserve the Arctic's rich biodiversity in a sustainable way.

Earlier this year, WWF released a report outlining how it is possible to move to 100% renewable energy by 2050. “A 100% renewable future is within reach", said Samantha Smith, Director of WWF’s Climate and Energy Initiative "We can do it with today's technology, but governments must lead the way. They must act, and invest, or be left behind” 


Melting sea ice and icebergs in the Arctic
© WWF / Wim van Pessel