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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published May 21 2013

Weather Talk: Records show Arctic sea ice is most certainly decreasing

The debate surrounding climate change often creates misunderstandings about the facts. I’ve been asked whether Arctic ice is actually melting more than once recently. The answer is that Arctic sea ice is most certainly decreasing.

Accurate records of Arctic sea ice began in 1979, when weather satellites began taking pictures over the polar regions regularly. Since 1979, summer Arctic ice has been declining at a rate of 11 percent per decade.

Mid- to late-winter ice has shown a much more modest decline. The decline has not been constant – there have been a few short periods of increase – but the general trend is one of decrease.

The decline in coverage has been accompanied by a thinning of the ice as well. Submarine data indicate an average decrease in midwinter Arctic ice thickness of about 5 feet since 1980. Warmer air temperatures over the Arctic in summer, warmer ocean temperatures, as well as shifting patterns in weather and ocean currents, are the direct cause of the melting.


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