As the Arctic continues to heat up, so does concern in the scientific community about climate change. 

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have discovered the Arctic sea ice has once again experienced ‘considerable melting.’

This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres – but a few decades ago, it averaged around seven million square kilometres at the same time of year.

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Researchers discovered the Arctic sea ice has once again experienced 'considerable melting.' This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres - a few decades ago, it averaged around seven million square kilometres at the same time of year

Researchers discovered the Arctic sea ice has once again experienced ‘considerable melting.’ This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres – a few decades ago, it averaged around seven million square kilometres at the same time of year

ARCTIC SEA ICE EXTENT 2017

Researchers measure the Arctic sea ice each September, when it reaches its minimum and can provide insight into the most drastic melting and its causes.

In 2017, they discovered the Arctic sea ice has once again experienced ‘considerable melting.’

The extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres – a few decades ago, it averaged around seven million square kilometres.

While the melting is slightly less than 2016 and isn’t a new record, it’s described as ‘massive’ and is the third lowest in the satellite record.

One unique finding about this year’s Arctic sea ice melt was the spatial distribution, which differed from previous years and the long-term patterns. 

While more ice was observed north of Svalbard and in the Beaufort Sea, less ice was recorded in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas.

The timing of the melting was different this year too – In some regions on the outskirts of the Arctic ocean, the ice melt occurred earlier in the year that previous trend show.

In the more central regions of the ocean, however, the melt began a few days after the average for 1981 to 2010. 

Researchers measure the Arctic sea ice each September, when it reaches its minimum and can provide insight into the most drastic melting and its causes.

While the melting is slightly less than last year and isn’t a new record low, it’s described as ‘massive’ and is just as serious.  

The minimum sea ice extent for 2017 is the third lowest in the satellite record.

The loss falls in line with the averages of the past ten years and falls far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. 

It’s due to an unusually warm winter that gave signs of extreme melting earlier this year – sea-ice coverage in March was lower than any March on record. 

‘This year’s sea ice extent is again on a very low level,’ Marcel Nicolaus, sea-ice physicist from AWI at the University of Bremen and Universität Hamburg, said. 

‘The observed September value of the past eleven years has consistently been lower than in any of the previous years.’ 

The researchers see the melting as an important indicator of climate change.

They also believe that without the relatively cool summer, the melting could’ve been even worse.

‘Thanks to the relatively cold summer, the sea ice managed to bounce back somewhat, but this year’s September minimum is by no means a good sign,’ said Lars Kaleschke from Universität Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability.

‘Though the amount of sea ice is of course subject to natural fluctuations, the long-term decline is obvious.’ 

One unique finding about this year’s Arctic sea ice melt was the spatial distribution, which differed from previous years and the long-term patterns. 

The loss falls in line with the averages of the past ten years and falls far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. Pictured: sea ice minima from 1979 to 2017

The loss falls in line with the averages of the past ten years and falls far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. Pictured: sea ice minima from 1979 to 2017

The loss falls in line with the averages of the past ten years and falls far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. Pictured: sea ice minima from 1979 to 2017

While more ice was observed north of Svalbard and in the Beaufort Sea, less ice was recorded in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas.

In some regions on the outskirts of the Arctic ocean, the ice melt occurred earlier in the year.

In the more central regions of the ocean, however, the melt began a few days after the average for 1981 to 2010. 

Researchers say the timing impacts both the overall melt and life cycle of the area’s organisms.  

The team used satellites to gather high-resolution microwave data about the size of the Arctic sea ice.

One unique finding about this year's Arctic sea ice melt was the spatial distribution, which differed from previous years and the long-term patterns. While more ice was observed north of Svalbard and in the Beaufort Sea, less ice was recorded in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas

One unique finding about this year's Arctic sea ice melt was the spatial distribution, which differed from previous years and the long-term patterns. While more ice was observed north of Svalbard and in the Beaufort Sea, less ice was recorded in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas

One unique finding about this year’s Arctic sea ice melt was the spatial distribution, which differed from previous years and the long-term patterns. While more ice was observed north of Svalbard and in the Beaufort Sea, less ice was recorded in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas

This allowed them to precisely analyse the daily sea-ice extent over the entire Arctic.

Scientists from around the globe released projections on the sea-ice extent months before the September minimum.

The predictions from AWI – which were estimated based on two…



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