Arctic ice broke record low this May, researchers say. The sea ice shrank massively last month, hitting the fourth-lowest level in 50 years. And it’s only the beginning, as summer is on its way and temperatures will continue to rise. Researchers predict a new record low this year.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the May average extent was more than one million square kilometers (that’s about 386,000 square miles) below the extent observed in May 2012. An image taken by NASA at the Beaufort Sea shows a large black water surface breaking into what used to be the ocean’s ice cover.
The average spring temperature was about 3 degrees across the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. This is all due to climate change. El Nino might also have helped increase the spring heat.
The Arctic ice is melting at a rapid pace, two to four weeks faster than it would normally. Warm air has been arriving into the Arctic from northern Europe and eastern Siberia, causing ice to retreat early from the Beaufort Sea. Barrow, Alaska, has recorded its most premature melting of snow in 78 years in May. Snow normally retreats in June or early July, but now, snowmelt began on May 13. It’s a staggering 10 days sooner than the former record set in 2002.
The area of Arctic sea ice measured just 12 million kilometers last month, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This means that the Arctic ice broke record low this May, as it beats previous May record set in 2004.
As for the Arctic glaciers, they too are melting. Glaciers are comprised out of multiyear ice, that should not melt over summer. However, over the years, pieces of ice have continuously broken from the glaciers and resulted in melting. Researchers monitoring the area say that North Pole temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on the globe.
Arctic sea ice has experienced record lows this year, in January, February, and April. Last month, temperatures in the Arctic rose to 4-5 degrees Fahrenheit above the usual average. In some areas, temperatures were even higher.
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia