In a sigh of relief for environmentalists, the rate of ice depletion in the Arctic is expected to be slow this year.
According to Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, “This is not going to be as extreme a year as last year, but we’re still seeing a strong downward trend. We’re still at levels that are much lower than average”.
“Even if this year ends up being the sixth- or seventh-lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents recorded have happened during the last 10 years,” said Meier. “The long-term trend is strongly downward”, he added.
The ice cover of the Arctic Ocean was measured at 2.25 million square miles (5.83 million square kilometers) on August 21, this year. It was 1.67 mn sq miles (4.34 million square kilometers) on the same date in 2012. The largest recorded for this date was in 1996, when ice covered 3.16 millions square miles (8.2 million square kilometers) of the Arctic Ocean.
NASA scientists have been studying the melting rates of Arctic ice since decades. Studying the updates of Arctic ice and its melting pattern, Arctic loses 30,000 square miles of sea ice each year. Last year’s melting rate was very high and the NASA scientists had reported a record low in the amount of ice available. It was noticed in 2012 that the ice cap of the Arctic Ocean reduced to its lowest extent ever recorded.
According the updates, the Arctic has lost half of its size. If the trend continues, the Arctic can be free from ice completely within next 30 to 50 years.