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Polar ice at the 8 years low

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The amount of sea ice remaining in the Arctic after the summer has for the second time fallen below a worrying limit within ten years. In total, more than 3.74 million square kilometers of ice floats in the polar seas.

The Guardian, under the authority of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), reports that this data has been up-to-date for 40 years. Only in 2012 there was even less ice left in the polar seas. The hope was then that this was a one-time in-depth record.

In the summer months a lot of ice melts at the North Pole, and in winter a large part of the Arctic ocean freezes again. There are therefore two important moments each year to take stock: the ice cream minimum in September and the maximum increase in ice in March.

This shows that the ice in the also softer polar winters does not recover enough to compensate for the rapid melting in the summer. So the ice in the North Pole is deteriorating structurally.

The main consequence of this ice loss is that it strengthens climate warming. Snow-covered, white sea ice reflects sunlight back into space in the summer months. The dark ocean water that replaces it converts the sunlight into heat. As a result, the temperature rise throughout the Arctic is more than twice as fast as the global average.

In addition, melting sea ice is a major threat to ecosystems in the oceans. Many life forms, from plankton to seals and whales, depend on sea ice.

According to the experts of the NIDC, the melting sea ice is yet another consequence of man-made global warming.

They also refer in a statement to the heatwave in Siberia earlier this year and the nature fires in the west of the United States. “It seems that 2020 will go down in history as the year when it was no longer possible to deny climate change. Each individual event can be attributed to the weather, but together with the heat waves, the fires, the hurricanes and the tropical storms, nature tells us something.”

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