ESA Cryosat reports Arctic sea ice volumes have increased

Scientists say ice thickness has increased, but warn data is not a sign that long-term warming trend has been reversed

Arctic sea-ice thickness in October 2012 (L) and 2013 (R) as seen by ESA's CryoSat

Arctic sea-ice thickness in October 2012 (L) and 2013 (R) as seen by ESA’s CryoSat

Data from Europe’s Cryosat satellite indicates the volume of sea ice in the Arctic increased this autumn.

According to the European Space Agency the volume of sea ice is 50% higher than last year, when ice levels hit record lows.

Arctic sea ice melts and freezes on an annual basis, reflecting the summer and winter seasons, but in recent years its volume has decreased rapidly.

The ESA say 90% of the increase is due to growth of multiyear ice, which survives through the summer without melting. The remaining 10% is new ice.

Scientists say the results are not an indication that the region is cooling, reversing a long-term warming trend.

“It’s estimated that there was around 20 000 cubic kilometres of Arctic sea ice each October in the early 1980s, and so today’s minimum still ranks among the lowest of the past 30 years,” said Professor Andrew Shepherd from University College London, a co-author of the study.

Cryosat is a European-funded spacecraft dedicated to monitoring ice levels in the Arctic.

Last week the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report warning the Arctic region was greening and “warming rapidly.”

“The relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years,” said NOAA’s David Kennedy in a statement.

“The Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems.”


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