Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Adios Arctic Ice

The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced earlier this week that the northern polar sea ice level is at the lowest coverage seen since monitoring began.

"The low ice extent for August 2007 stands out sharply compared to all previous Augusts. The August 2007 monthly average extent was 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles), falling well below August 2005 extent, which was 6.30 million square kilometers (2.42 million square miles). Additionally, August 2007 ice extent is 31% below the long-term average of 7.67 million square kilometers (2.95 million square miles).

Even more stunning is that the August 2007 monthly average is the lowest extent in the satellite record for any month, including any previous September, which is typically the lowest month each year. September 2005, the previous record, had a monthly mean extent of 5.56 million square kilometers (2.14 million square miles).

August 2007 sea ice extent was lower than September 2005 extent by 240,000 square kilometers (92,000 square miles)."

By the way the legendary Northwest Passage is now open:

"Of particular note is imminent opening of the fabled Northwest Passage through the channels of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was first navigated by Roald Amundsen in the early 1900s. It took his group over two years of arduous and dangerous navigation through narrow lanes of open water amongst thick, compact ice. Analysts at the Canadian Ice Service and the U.S. National Ice Center confirm that the passage is almost completely clear and that the region is more open than it has ever been since the advent of routine monitoring in 1972. The Northwest Passage traces from Baffin Bay in the South toward M'Clure Strait."

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