European scientists say the extent of Arctic sea ice melt this summer reached a level not observed since satellite tracking began in 1972 and is probably at its lowest level in at least 8,000 years. In an analysis of satellite data, researchers at the University of Bremen in Germanycalculated that sea ice covered an area of about 4.24 million square kilometers on Sept. 8. The previous summer minimum occurred in September 2007, when ice covered about 4.27 million square kilometers. While Arctic sea ice melts and refreezes annually, the rate of melt is now twice as great as in 1972, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The NSIDC is expected to release its own data on sea ice extent in the next week. A University of Washington study released last week showed Arctic sea-ice volume has reached its lowest level in recorded history. According to the study, the volume of sea ice last month was about 2,135 cubic miles, roughly half the average volume in 1979. If current trends continue, scientists say the Arctic could be largely ice-free during the summer within three decades.
University of Bremen