Arctic ice levels hit historic low, researchers say
Melting ice is visible near Greenland's Ilulissat glacier, one of the areas seeing the effects of global warming in the Arctic.
September 12th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Arctic ice levels hit historic low, researchers say

The amount of Arctic sea ice has melted to a historic low, with the area of land covered by ice at the smallest level since scientists began observing it with satellites in 1972, researchers from the University of Bremen in Germany report.

The North Pole skull cap shrank to about half a percent under the previous record low set in September 2007, according to the school's Institute of Environmental Physics.

Researchers, including those from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, had predicted earlier this summer that Arctic sea ice levels could reach extreme lows. But the University of Bremen physicists said there was uncertainty in July about whether the ice melt would surpass the previous record.

They said their studies indicated that continuing ice decline was related to man-made global warming.

"It seems to be clear that this is a further consequence of the man-made global warming with global consequences," researchers said in their report.  "Directly, the livehood of small animals, algae, fishes and mammals like polar bears and seals is more and more reduced."

Read the report (PDF)

As Arctic sea ice has continued to decline, it also has become drastically thinner overall, the report said.

The researchers said that previously the melting ice had been attributed to yearly weather anomalies. But now it is believed the massive melt is due in part to global warming and the increasing albedo effect, which has to do with the power of the surface to reflect sun. As more ice melts, instead of having white ice reflect more of the sun's rays, you have a larger amount of open water that absorbs those same rays. Therefore, warmer temperatures lead to even more ice melting.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center did not have updated data to confirm the German report but said it expected the historic low to be hit based on the past few weeks' data.  Its site is only up to date to September 6. The historic levels were reached two days later. The center said it would "make a preliminary announcement when ice extent has stopped declining and has increased for several days in a row" and said it would release monthly data for September early next month.

The large-scale thaw is cause for concern, according to Shaye Wolf, climate science director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

“This stunning loss of Arctic sea ice is yet another wake-up call that climate change is here now and is having devastating effects around the world,” Wolf said in a statement.

The receding ice is also opening up a war for oil resources.

The Climate Law Institute noted the record followed news that this summer was the second-hottest since 1895.

In 2009, studies began suggesting the Arctic Ocean could be "largely ice free" during summer within a decade.

One of those reports, complied by the UK-based Catlin Arctic Survey and the World Wildlife Fund, showed that researchers predicted that within 20 years ice cover will be completely gone during the warmer months.

soundoff (835 Responses)
  1. 1nd3p3n3nt

    scientists are not perfect and have made plenty of mistakes historically.
    Yet it is a fool that ignores what math and patterns tell them.
    we won't sink the economy and industries simply because of global warming, but we should start preparing for what might happen, and have plan a, b and c ready to go if the situation starts getting out of control.

    The world changing is a good thing, we have too much false sense of permanence already, what with people fighting over this mountain and that mountain because of what someone might have done thousands of years ago there. Mix it up some more!

    September 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheTruth72

      Global warming is a lie. You bought into the MSM lie. Please do the research for yourself because the news isn't giving it to you.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brewmaster

    How this issue became politicized is beyond me. I consider myself a conservative, but the way Republicans can willfully disregard science and logic has made me lose faith in the party.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sillyscared

      The Republicans just like propaganda and falsehoods...

      September 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • a2rjr

      What science? Made up statistics can give you the answers you want to prove a point that doesn't exist without the falsehoods. It's a big lie!

      September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • AZLib

      Republicans are only truly interested in one thing MONEY. They will use propaganda at all times to protect their sources of money... sources include; Wall Street, NY Mega Banks, Oil, Gas, Coal and other fossil fuels, big Pharma to name a few. They will fight truth about global warming to the death of this planet all in the name of protecting their sources of money. Even if they know the truth they will turn a blind eye to protect their money. Right now the money from big Oil and now Natural Gas is flowing into the pockets of US GOP Congressmen/women like never beforre. Who in the heck do you think is paying for this T-party gatherings? Natural gas will destroy our water supply (thanks to dick channey) natural gas companies do not need to report to anybody including the EPA what they are pumping into your water supply to excit gas in the shale rock below. We are about 1 to manybe 2 generations from being required to wear space suites outside for fear of burns... Thanks GOP sincerely appreicate your total blind following of the money.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Squid

    The Globe is getting warmer, but it's not Global Warming

    September 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nodack

      The water is getting wetter, but it's not wet.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    Of course global warming isn't real. All the liberals are just dancing in the streets with their hair dryers at full and blowing it on you.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |

    So what was the cause of global warming in 1895 ??? How did things manage to get better as the industrial revolution was in full swing int the 1900s.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • person

      The cause of warming in the late 1800s was the rise in urban and industrial pollution. This was also the source of the famous (and notorious) "London fog."

      September 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      There is no event in 1895

      September 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Uh, that's when they tracked the data back to.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1nd3p3n3nt

      talk about the 'natural cycles' that the world goes through. There's the whole 'mini ice age' you should look up. Man made, or not man made, we got some warming going on.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      The article warming was strange, and is being misinterpreted. It meant to say "Since detailed records began in 1895, 2010 is the 2nd warmest on record" What the article didn't say is what the top 10 warmest years are: 2005, 2010, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2007, 2004, 2001. So rather than misquote a news article to discount global warming, how about you look at what scientists actually say?

      September 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dennis

    Republican Politicians don"t arguing against Global Warming because of science...they are arguing against Global Warming because it is an environmental issue and voters don't trust Republicans on Environmental issues.

    It would be like a Republican Campaigning on Union Rights.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean

    So if the ice cap in the arctic is shrinking and this is "proof" of global warming, then how does one explain the fact that the antarctic ice cap is growing? The only "logical" way to do that is to admit to the hypocrisy that that no matter what happens, its all proof that global warming exists.. It must be great to believe in something that where even direct proof that your theory is wrong, is accepted as proof its correct.. Global warming fulfills every requirement to be classified as a religion.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Arctic and Antarctic are very different. One is a land mass with mostly ice on top of it and the other just ice floating in the sea. There are different currents involved also. Desalination of the oceans drive different freezing points.

      So your question is not answered but just temperature.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • read

      Wow, that took like 10 seconds on Google. Now you try!

      September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      Continue to deny the expert opinion of the scientific community at your own peril. There is an explanation for the phenomena you describe, but unfortunately you're too pig-headed to go look it up for yourself.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeT

      Your reference from a vetted source that the Antarctic ice mass is increasing?

      September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      You obviously have a very limited knowledge of how science works. Rapidly melting ice is only one indicator among hundreds of the impact of human-induced global warming. The science is not controversial, among knowledgeable people anyway. Educate yourself.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jesus

      These whako right wingers! When everything starts falling apart they will yell "Jesus is comming!" " It can't be man made only God can change the earth!"

      September 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    We could help save the ice cap if there wasnt so much hot air here on line hahahehe

    September 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ralph

    Hardly. There are long epochs during which there was no Arctic ice at all.

    This is typical scaremongering to ensure that funds will flow to continue scientific "research". During the history of the earth there were 6 ice ages. We have a special name for these periods because they are unique to the history of the earth.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mikey89

    Wake up America... What happens when cold air and hot air mix? The same thing that happens in your house, the cold air settles to the bottom and the hotter rises = Downdraft and Updraft in one motion... And we wonder why Tornadoes will become more prevelant in time. Well that melting ice will release more and more cold into the jet stream, only to meet moisture somewhere along the line. Not good bubba.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. realist25

    the real reason that the arctice is melting is ELENIN/NIBURU or whatever you want to call it. The ice isnt melting above the water its melting below for the fact that this object coming at us that you can no longer hide from us as it is visible in the southern hemisphere every sunrise. Ther are thousands and i mean thousands of videos showing this lovey dwarf star. it is coming from underneath the ecliptic plain and that is heating the suface of the arctics and is the reason for your melting ice. What is coming is big and the casue of severl changes on earth if you reasearch them enough. But dont take my word. Look for your self look on youtube at the videos all you have to do is search nibiru and you will see that what most people in the southern hemisphere can see and all the media has been hiding cannot be hidden anymore.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. WOW

    I cant believe that people are still trying to down [play global warming. They have tons of proof, just in images alone. THey dont want anything from you except to live a better life, be greener, think about what your actions are doing to cause the temperature to warm. Think about it, just the p[opulation alone causes the temperature to rise, Ever time a baby is born, there is another 98.6 degrees walking around on the face of this earth making trash, using gas ectra. If you choose to be one of those who will believe it when they see it, then your gonna be in alot of trouble. They want to try to prevent and stop the decline now before you wading through ankle deep water living in tennessee.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. whatsupdok

    The universe is laughing as the human species frets and struts it's hour upon the stage on this speck of a planet.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Deep, not.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dennis

    It's like two hijacked planes flew into the ice caps.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Motley

    Historic low means lowest in last 40 years???

    "The amount of Arctic sea ice has melted to a historic low, with the area of land covered by ice at the smallest level since scientists began observing it with satellites in 1972,..."

    the Earth has only had ice on the polar caps 10% of its history,.... let's not overuse or in this case compltely misuse the term "Historic" in order to fear monger,.... the main tactic used by the media

    September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      So why did you bring up prehistoric?

      September 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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