Climate change continues to take its toll on the Arctic circle, with sea ice now reaching almost record lows. Much of the Arctic sea ice melts in the summer, and reforms again in the warmer months. However, sea ice levels are the second lowest on record this year in what is another devastating sign of climate change.
The North Pole needs to keep some sea ice over the summer months, as it makes it easier to reform when the cooler months roll in.
Melting sea ice contributes to a vicious cycle. The white ice of the North and South Poles reflects sunlight back into space.
Without it, more sunlight is absorbed by Earth, creating an even warmer planet.
This year has proved to be disastrous, with the year’s minimum reaching 3.74 million square kilometres (1.44 million square miles) on September 15, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Last year, the sea ice minimum in the Arctic was 4.15 million square kilometres (1.60 million square miles).
Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC, said: “It’s been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low… heat waves in Siberia, and massive forest fires.
“The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent. We are headed towards a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin.”
Greenpeace Nordic Oceans Campaigner Laura Meller said: “The rapid disappearance of sea ice is a sobering indicator of how closely our planet is circling the drain.