The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the earth’s Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum for the year. It’s "the second-lowest amount recorded since the dawn of the satellite era," they say. The record was set a year ago. "On September 12, 2008 sea ice extent dropped to 4.52 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles). This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as sea has now begun its annual cycle of growth in response to autumn cooling," says the NSIDC. "The 2008 minimum is the second-lowest recorded since 1979, and is 2.24 million square kilometers (0.86 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum." There’s more information and a map HERE. NASA’s Aqua satellite provided the data for the visualization above; more HERE, and a Quicktime animation HERE to show how the polar ice cap has receded since spring. Shrinking ice means more of the Arctic is open to oil drilling and shipping. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, quoted by AP today: "The use of these energy reserves is a safeguard for Russia’s energy security," he said. "It is our duty to our descendants, we have to ensure the long-term national interests of Russia in the Arctic."
(Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio; Blue Marble Next Generation data courtesy Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC)) ======================= Note added Wednesday afternoon:
For some extra perspective, here is a graph of this year’s ice cover, month-to-month, compared to last year’s (the lower line) and the 1979-2000 average. Click on the graph to enlarge. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center.