Arctic Meltdown Signals Long-Term Trend

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada , Sep 5 (IPS) – Soaring temperatures have led to the collapse of several huge ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic over the past few weeks.

One 50 sq km ice shelf on the northern coast of Canada’s Ellesmere Island simply “vanished” over three days, exposing a coast that lay buried under ice for at least 4,000 years.

At the same time, the Arctic’s thick, year-round sea ice cover has declined to near the 2007 record of 2.6 million square kilometres less ice than the summer average minimum. This year’s ice loss is still huge — an area that’s far larger than the states of Alaska and Texas combined.

“My gut feeling is that the sea ice decline won’t beat last year’s record,” said Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

This year’s sea ice decline is expected to reach its peak in the next few days. “The (2008) decline is already the second largest loss of summer ice on record even though the weather was not as warm as last year,” Meier told IPS. Continue reading