ENVIRONMENT

Second biggest Arctic sea ice thaw since records began

Monday 19 September 2011, 9:22AM
By Greenpeace New Zealand
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AUCKLAND

This summer’s Arctic sea ice melt has been confirmed overnight (NZ time) as having been the second largest in recorded history, following 2007’s record melt .

Responding to the announcement by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDIC), Frida Bengtsson, expedition leader onboard the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, at 80 degrees north said, “This is a clear signal of how climate change is causing the rapid shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cap”.

She continued, “It not only has grave implications for the polar bears and other wildlife that depend on the sea ice, but for the planet as a whole - an Arctic free of summer sea ice could destabilise global weather patterns.”

Till Wagner, ice scientist from University of Cambridge’s Polar Ocean Physics Group, speaking from the Arctic Sunrise said, "What we can see is a staggering retreat in the ice. The speed and the scale at which the sea ice is diminishing cannot be explained by extreme weather conditions or similar theories. It is a direct consequence of global rising temperatures that lead to the heating up of the air and of the oceans.”

Responding to the news Greenpeace NZ Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer said, “This dramatic thaw sends a clear message to the New Zealand government that the setting up of new frontiers in extreme oil, Solid Energy’s preparations to dig up six billion tonnes of lignite in Southland, and Fonterra’s ongoing use of palm kernel, have all got to stop”.

The Greenpeace icebreaker vessel the Arctic Sunrise is currently in the Arctic Ocean, with scientists from the University of Cambridge’s Polar Ocean Physics Group, who are conducting research into the thickness and volume of the sea ice.