Home / Science / News /  Arctic sea ice hits 10th-lowest on record, NASA warns of abrupt breakdown. Read here

NASA has informed that the ice melting and growth in the earth's poles during this year's wintertime extent is the 10th-lowest in the satellite record maintained. This comes as global warming and climate change surges recording an almost daily rise in maximum temperatures globally. 

Earth has also been reeling from a global pandemic owing to the deadly novel coronavirus. As economy and existence faced a threat, so did the Arctic sea which hit yet another low and struck its annual maximum extent on 25 February. 

Records of the ice melting on the Earth's poles are maintained by National Snow and Ice Data Center. It is one of NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Centers.

According to data, the Arctic sea ice extent peaked at14.88 million square kilometers and is roughly 7,70,000 square kilometers below the 1981-2010 average maximum -- equivalent to missing an area of ice over twice the size of Rajasthan.

Sea ice in the Arctic grows and melts based on seasonal changes in the region every year. It reaches its maximum extent around March after growing through the colder months and shrinks to its minimum extent in September after melting through the warmer months. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, the Antarctic sea ice follows an opposite cycle.

Procured data

Satellite sensors gather sea ice data that are processed into daily images, each image grid cell spanning an area of roughly 25 kilometers by 25 kilometers. Scientists then use these images to estimate the extent of the ocean where sea ice covers at least 15% of the water.

Nasa said that since satellites began reliably tracking sea ice in 1979, maximum extents in the Arctic have declined at a pace of about 13% per decade, with minimum extents declining at about 2.7% per decade. "These trends are linked to warming caused by human activities such as emitting carbon dioxide, which traps heat in the atmosphere and causes temperatures to rise. NASA’s analysis also shows the Arctic is warming about three times faster than other regions," Nasa said in a statement.

Sea ice in the Arctic is surrounded by land, whereas sea ice in the Antarctic is surrounded only by the ocean and can thus spread out more freely. Overall, the Antarctic sea ice record shows a slightly upward but nearly flat trend or increase.

Scientists have been warning of a faster and more abrupt breakdown in the already worsening climate situation on the planet. Experts speculate that Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 40 degrees Celsius warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 30 degrees Celsius warmer than average.

Scientists were hoping that the Antarctic would cool down at the moment after its summer as the Arctic slowly emerges from its winter. However, melting on both poles together has surprised experts.


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