London, April 21 (IANS) Evaluating satellite data about the thickness of ice cover, sea ice physicists are anticipating that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean this summer may shrink to the record low of 2012.
The data show that the arctic sea ice was already extraordinarily thin in the summer of 2015 and comparably, little new ice formed during the past winter, said the team from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Germany.
In many regions of the Arctic, new ice only formed very slowly due to the particularly warm winter.
“If we compare the ice thickness map of the previous winter with that of 2012, we can see that the current ice conditions are similar to those of the spring of 2012 – in some places, the ice is even thinner,” said Dr Marcel Nicolaus, sea ice physicist at AWI.
He presented these findings at a press conference during the annual general assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.
Predicting the summer extent of the arctic sea ice several months in advance is one of the great challenges facing contemporary polar research.
This spring, they are as disheartening as they were in the negative record year of 2012. Back then, the sea ice surface of the Artic shrunk to a record low of 3.4 million square kilometres.
According to the scientists, the extent of the ice loss will be great enough to undo all growth recorded over the relatively cold winters of 2013 and 2014.
They observed a considerable decrease in the thickness of the sea ice as early as the late summer of 2015.
The unusually warm winter has thus contributed to the likely continuation of the dramatic decline of the Arctic sea ice throughout 2016.